UPDATE: The search for the missing couple has been called off. Police say examination of the CCTV footage shows they went overboard one after the other, and the incident is not being treated as suspicious. Australia’s Herald Sun reports that the security video shows the woman jumped first and was followed by her boyfriend about 20 seconds later.
An air and sea search is under way off the coast of New South Wales, Australia, after two passengers were reported to have gone overboard from cruise ship Carnival Spirit.
The couple were discovered to be missing when the ship docked in Sydney at the end of a 10-day cruise. They were last seen on board 12 hours earlier.
Examination of the ship’s CCTV security footage revealed that they fell from a midships deck on the 88,500-ton ship on Wednesday night, about 65 nautical miles from the coast.
The pair, 30-year-old Paul Rossington and 27-year-old Kristen Schroder, from New South Wales, were believed to be travelling on the cruise with other family members. The ship had been on a cruise to the Pacific islands.
Police boarded the vessel in Sydney and were seen taking fingerprints from the balcony of the couple’s cabin. No life jackets were missing and police say none of the other 2,680 people on the ship saw the couple go overboard
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has a helicopter, a plane and several boats searching a 300-square mile area of sea. A New South Wales police spokesman said:
“Officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the pair and, in these early stages, are focused on the search efforts. This is a tragic event at the moment, but we are holding out hope we might be able to find these people alive.’
A statement from Carnival Cruise Line said: “At approximately 9:15 a.m. during the debarkation process for Carnival Spirit at the conclusion of a 10-night cruise in Sydney, it became apparent that two guests were unaccounted for.
“The ship immediately initiated standard missing person procedures including a full search of the vessel. The guests in question were travelling with family and friends and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night.
“We have naturally been concerned since we became aware that two passengers were missing from Carnival Spirit and our thoughts are clearly with their families at this difficult time. We are working closely with New South Wales Police and assisting them in their inquiries.”