England

Cruise ship worker feared dead after English Channel fall

  • 21 May 2011
  • From the section England
Celebrity Eclipse
Image caption The ship was eight miles (12 km) north of Cherbourg when the man fell overboard

A man is missing presumed dead after falling overboard a cruise ship in the English Channel off the French coast.

French emergency crews have called off a search and rescue operation following an unsuccessful search for the crew member overnight.

The 31-year-old Filipino man fell from the Celebrity Eclipse, which was travelling between Cherbourg and Southampton, at 2215 BST on Friday.

Support is being provided for his friends and family, a spokeswoman said.

The vessel was returning to Southampton following a 14-night cruise around the Mediterranean.

Very cold

The incident occurred eight miles (12 km) north of the French port.

Passenger Ben Davis told the BBC an announcement was made over the PA system that a man had gone overboard.

"An emergency announcement came over the PA system for all crew from the cruise director who hurriedly announced, 'Oscar, Oscar Oscar, port side' four times," he said.

"The ship circled for a few hours scanning the sea with its spotlights, along with other ships in the area and a lifeboat.

"We could see the street lights of Cherbourg, France, in the distance. The sea outside our window was illuminated by the ship."

A spokeswoman for parent company Celebrity Cruises said the ship turned around immediately.

"Celebrity Cruises' care team is providing support to the crew member's family, as well as his friends and colleagues onboard, and our thoughts and prayers are with them," she added.

A French coastguard official said an extensive search was carried out but teams could not find him.

"We deployed our resources to find him but it was to no avail and we can now presume that he is dead," he said.

"The water was very cold and there is no hope for him."

Solent Coastguard Maritime Rescue confirmed it had received information.

The Eclipse, a Solstice class vessel, joined the fleet last year.

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