To passengers fell overboard from a Carnival Cruise ship sailing Australia's east coast on Wednesday night, and air and marine searches are being conducted in a desperate attempt to find the missing couple alive.
The pair that fell overboard were Australian citizens, and were discovered to be missing on Thursday morning when the Carnival Spirit ended it's 10-day cruise at Sydney's Circular Quay, according to New South Wales Police Superintendent Mark Hutchings.
According to Hutchings, authorities have recovered surveillance footage that showed the couple falling from the ship's mid deck on Wednesday night as the ship neared Sydney, off the coast of Forster. Investigators are honing in the video in hopes of determining whether the fall was accidental or if the couple jumped.
As part of the investigation, life preservers were counted in order to establish whether one of the victims attempted to rescue the other after falling overboard, however all flotation devices were accounted for. According to investigators, the cruise ship's 600 surveillance cameras are constantly monitored, but no one has reported witnessing the fall.
"This is a tragic event at the moment, but we're holding out hope we might be able to find these people alive," Hutchings said. According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a 1,000-square-kilometer search is being conducted using an airplane, helicopter and police boats.
The 30-year-old man and 26-year-old woman who fell overboard were vacationing with seven other family and friends, and were discovered to be missing while the Carnival Cruise ship disembarked on their last stop at Mare Island in New Caledonia.
"The guests in question were traveling with family and friends, and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night," said Peter Taylor, spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines. "The ship immediately initiated standard missing person procedures, including a full search of the vessel, as per protocol," he explained.
Headlines for the overboard passengers may seem familiar, as Carnival has been the subject of several high-profile complications recently. Just two months ago, the Carnival Triumph lost power while cruising the Gulf of Mexico, leaving passengers onboard with food shortages and poor sanitation conditions for five days.
Similarly, in March of last year Carnival's Costa Allegra had a fire that resulted in power loss while the boat was sailing the Indian Ocean. Passengers were left without running water, functioning toilets or air conditioning for three days.
In one of Carnival's most infamous disasters, the Costa Concordia was upended onto dry land while cruising the Italian coast last year. The accident resulted in 32 deaths, and the ship's captain scandalously fled the boat, leaving passengers helpless during the terrifying situation.