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Carnival cruise ship crew member falls overboard near Cuba; search ongoing

Passengers return to the Carnival Victory cruise ship after a past stop in Key West.
Passengers return to the Carnival Victory cruise ship after a past stop in Key West.

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for a Carnival Cruise Line crew member who fell overboard Thursday.

The Carnival Victory was en route from Cozumel and 30 miles northwest of Cuba on the last leg of a four-day cruise when the 37-year-old male crew member was seen going overboard, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The incident happened at about 2 p.m. Thursday.

“The ship’s command immediately returned to the location where the crew member was last seen and initiated search and rescue activities, which are ongoing,” according to a Carnival spokesperson. “All appropriate authorities, including the United States Coast Guard, have been notified.”

The crew member was identified by his brother as Gaffar Satwilkar, a Carnival employee for the past 10 years. People aboard the ship at the time say they saw Satwilkar working on the lifeboats when he fell.

Mohammad Shoukat Satvilkar, who lives in India, told the Miami Herald in a direct message on Twitter that Carnival called him on Friday to notify him of the search for his brother.

Neither Carnival nor the Coast Guard would confirm Satwilkar’s name.

The Coast Guard dispatched an Ocean Sentry airplane and diverted the cutter Charles Sexton to the area. An alert was sent to other ships in the area. The cruise ship returned to Miami as scheduled. The Coast Guard announced on Twitter Saturday that it would continue to search for the missing crew member.

In December, Victory passenger Thomas McElhany, 26, plunged into the ocean south of Islamorada. A 2,086-square-mile search was suspended after 32 hours. Carnival said information surrounding McElhany’s disappearance indicated it was “an intentional act.”

The 893-foot Victory, which has a guest capacity of 2,764 and a crew of 1,100, cruises to the Western Caribbean and the Bahamas from its base at PortMiami, according to Carnival.

The Carnival Glory rescued a Norwegian Cruise Line crew member in July 2018 after the man had spent at least 22 hours treading water. He fell overboard from the Norwegian Getaway the day before.

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Linda Robertson has written about a variety of compelling subjects during an award-winning career. As a sports columnist she covered 13 Olympics, Final Fours, World Cups, Wimbledon, Heat and Hurricanes championships, Super Bowls, Soul Bowls and Orange Bowls, Cuban defectors, LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lance Armstrong, Tonya Harding. She golfed with Donald Trump, fished with Jimmy Johnson, learned a magic trick from Muhammad Ali and partnered with Venus Williams to defeat Serena. She now chronicles our love-hate relationship with Miami, where she grew up.
Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.
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