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Cruise ship passenger survives 15 hours at sea after falling overboard

Footage of the man once he was spotted at sea (Twitter/USCG Heartland)
Footage of the man once he was spotted at sea (Twitter/USCG Heartland)

A cruise ship passenger managed to survive 15 hours at sea after falling overboard over the Thanksgiving weekend in the US.

The unnamed 28-year-old man had been on Carnival Cruise Line’s Valor vessel on a sailing in the Gulf of Mexico when the incident occurred.

The alarm was raised by his sister when he failed to return to the bar after going to the toilet on 23 November.

A full-scale search of the ship commenced, with photos of the man shown to guests and the Valor’s pool drained.

At around 2pm on Thursday, this search was abandoned as it was clear the man was no longer on the ship.

The cruise liner, which had been due to sail to the Mexican island of Cozumel, retraced its steps, while the Coast Guard and all ships within a 300km area were called in to help look for the missing man.

In what Carnival dubbed a “Thanksgiving Miracle”, the man was spotted 30km off the coast of Southwest Pass, a channel at the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeast Louisiana.

Cargo carrier CRINIS first identified the man, before alerting the Coast Guard, which used a helicopter to winch him out of the sea - 15 hours after he’d first fallen in.

“He was able to identify his name, confirmed that he was the individual that fell overboard,” Lt. Seth Gross, rescue coordinator for the US Coast Guard, told CNN.

“He was showing signs of hypothermia, shock, dehydration.”

Video shared by USCG Heartland shows footage of the man being spotted at sea.

The man has since been transported to New Orleans, where he spent the weekend in hospital under medical observation.

The Carnival Valor continued on its way to Cozumel, with passengers and crew given the “miraculous” news of the man’s rescue last Thursday night.