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Friday, May 10, 2013

Couple disappears from cruise ship


Mystery this morning surrounded the circumstances in which a young couple apparently went overboard from the cruise ship Carnival Spirit somewhere off the New South Wales coast on Wednesday night.

An air and marine search was launched yesterday along a lengthy stretch of the NSW coast covering a about 1000 square kilometres. It resumed at first light today, concentrating on an expanse about 120 kilometres off the coast of Forster, where the incident is thought to have occurred.

The man and the woman were named by ABC News this morning as Paul Rossington, 30, and Kristen Schroder, 27, from NSW. They were found missing when the ship docked at Sydney’s Circular Quay yesterday morning.

It is not clear whether they jumped or fell. Their disappearance was apparently recorded by CCTV cameras aboard, with footage suggesting they went overboard, presumably together, at about 8.50pm. The incident happened on the mid-deck, which (like all passenger decks on ships) is rimmed by a safety fence.

Carnival Spirit
A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman told SBS the pair were booked on a 10-day cruise and were found missing when passengers disembarked.

Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings from the NSW Police Marine Area Command told SBS yesterday police held hope the two might still be alive.

Carnival Spirit has been based in Sydney since last year and is the largest ship to call Australia home year-round. The ship has 1062 cabins and was carrying 2680 passengers.

The couple had been sharing a cabin and were travelling with family and friends, according to a report in the Australian, which added that it understood “the disappearance is not being treated as suspicious”.

While vanishing from a cruise ship is a very rare occurrence, dozens of passengers have done so over the years. Most are presumed to have “gone overboard”, a phrase which covers both falling or jumping. Some may have been under the influence of drink or drugs. Foul play is suspected in some cases. In a few instances, people have been rescued after many hours in the sea.

About 18 months ago, the US-based International Cruise Victims Association estimated that 165 people had gone missing at sea since 1995. In the same period, over 180 million passengers worldwide have taken cruises – which puts the chances of going overboard at less than one in a million.

Cruisepage.com, which lists some of those who have gone overboard, makes several observations. Males are much more likely to go overboard than females, the average age of a passenger who goes overboard is 41 years and “you are most likely to fall overboard on the last night of your cruise”.

That would appear to be the case in the latest incident, although two people going overboard together is highly unusual.

Detective Superintendent Hutchings told reporters that police had found no witnesses to the event and did not rule out the possibility of a suicide pact, the Australian reported.

Written by : Peter Needham
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