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Two passengers vanish from Carnival cruise ship

A search by air and sea is underway for a man, 30, and woman, 27, who can be seen in surveillance video falling from the Carnival Spirit's deck Wednesday night. Their disappearance was discovered when the ship docked in Sydney Harbor. NBC's Keir Simmons reports.

Two passengers went overboard while a Carnival cruise ship was sailing off the east coast of Australia, officials said on Thursday.

A vast area of sea was being scoured by aircraft and boats in an attempt to find the missing 30-year-old man and  26-year-old woman.

They were reported missing when the Carnival Spirit docked at Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal at 11:30 a.m. Thursday local time (9:30 p.m. Wednesday ET) after 10 days at sea, New South Wales Police said in a statement.

They had been traveling with family and friends, according to the cruise ship firm. 

Police said surveillance camera footage determined the two missing people went overboard at about 8:50 p.m. Wednesday local time (6:50 a.m. ET Wednesday), more than 14 hours before the alarm was raised.

William West / AFP - Getty Images

Two police officers check for fingerprints on the balcony of the cabin of the two passengers who went overboard.

“Officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the pair and, in these early stages, are focused on the search efforts,” the police statement said.

Police said a “thorough search” was made of the ship after staff contacted officers. Police then looked through the surveillance camera footage and established that the missing people had gone overboard.

New South Wales Police Superintendent Mark Hutchings told reporters that investigators were having the video enhanced in a bid to determine whether the couple had jumped or had fallen by accident, according to The Associated Press. No life preservers were missing, he added.

The incident is not considered suspicious, according to The Austrailian.

"This is a tragic event at the moment, but we're holding out hope we might be able to find these people alive," Hutchings added.

Police aircraft and boats were involved the search and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority also sent a plane to look for them.

A spokeswoman for the authority said they were searching an area of 120 square nautical miles. “People can survive in the water for quite some time,” she added.

The couple had been among 2,680 passengers on a South Pacific cruise.

Peter Taylor, spokesman for the ship's operator, Carnival Cruise Lines, said in a statement on Thursday that "the guests in question were traveling with family and friends, and initial reports indicated that the couple was last seen on board the vessel last night,” the AP reported.

"The ship immediately initiated standard missing person procedures, including a full search of the vessel, as per protocol," he added.

Carnival Cruise Lines is a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise operator, the AP said. 


The Costa Concordia, carrying more than 4,200 passengers, ran aground Jan. 13 off the coast of Italy killing 32 people - including two Americans.

Last year, the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people. Costa is a division of Carnival Corp.

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.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.