Search called off for Carnival Spirit crew member who fell overboard

The Carnival Spirit, pictured here in a file photo, has continued its journey to Fiji. Photo: SuppliedA search and rescue operation for a man who vanished from a cruise ship near Vanuatu has been suspended despite the failure to locate the missing team member.

A spokesman for the New Caledonian search and rescue authority told Fairfax Media on Wednesday morning they had allowed the Carnival Spirit cruise liner to continue on its original course.

“The chances of finding the crew member who went overboard is literally nil,” said a spokesman, citing poor weather conditions and the exceptionally large search area.

Early on Wednesday, the authority dispatched a navy plane to search the area. The plane spent four hours patrolling the search area, which is at least 200 nautical miles long.

The Carnival Cruise Lines ship is now steaming towards Fiji. A spokesman said the company continued to be deeply concerned about the missing team member.

A letter to passengers from Captain Giuseppe Gazzano apologised for the interrupted voyage and said a ‘care team’ had been engaged to support the missing man’s family. Fairfax Media has confirmed the man is not an Australian national.

The man failed to report for his shift on Tuesday morning and is believed to be a member of the kitchen crew on board.

A passenger on the ship, who did not wish to be identified, told Fairfax Media an announcement was made at about 9.30am Tuesday that a crew member had gone missing. The vessel did not turn around until about 2pm, she said.

He could have been missing since the night before, when the cruise liner left Vanuatu, the passenger said.

“Several messages later, the captain announced we were going to turn the boat around to search for him.”

A spokesperson for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said AMSA had been advised of the incident, but the location was outside Australia’s search and rescue region.

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