Thursday, May 9, 2013

Asia & the Pacific: Carnival Says Australian Couple Disappeared from "Carnival Spirit"

According to The Associated Press, authorities have been conducting an air and marine search Thursday (May 9) off Australia's east coast for two cruise passengers who were believed to have fallen overboard the night before.

The couple, Australian citizens from New South Wales, were discovered missing Thursday morning after the Carnival Spirit docked at Sydney's Circular Quay, at the end of a 10-day journey.

Surveillance camera footage revealed that the couple--a 30-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman-- whose names have not been released, fell from the ship's mid-deck on Wednesday night (May 8), when the ship was about 120 kilometers (65 nautical miles) off the coast of Forster, a city 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of Sydney.

Investigators were having the video enhanced in a bid to determine whether the couple had jumped or had fallen by accident. The ship has around 600 surveillance cameras that are constantly monitored, although no one reported seeing the fall at the time.

No life preservers were missing from the ship. A missing life preserver might have indicated that one of the missing passengers had attempted a rescue.

COMMENT: The couple and seven of their family and friends were among 2,680 passengers on a South Pacific cruise. The ship's last stop was Mare Island in New Caledonia, which it left on Monday (May 6), bound for Sydney. The couple was discovered missing as passengers disembarked.

Carnival Cruise Lines is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise operator. Carnival Corp. has been plagued by a series of high-profile problems in recent years. Last year, the "Costa Concordia" ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people. 

Also last year, the "Costa Allegra" caught fire and lost power in the Indian Ocean, leaving passengers without working toilets, running water or air conditioning for three days. "Costa" is a division of Carnival Corp.

In February 2013, passengers aboard the "Carnival Triumph" spent five days without power in the Gulf of México after an engine-room fire disabled the vessel. Those on board complained of sparse conditions, including overflowing toilets and food shortages.