Search called off for Australia cruise passengers

Carnival Spirit cruise ship The pair were among 2,700 passengers on board the Carnival Spirit

Rescue teams have called off a search for two people who apparently fell from a cruise ship off the south-eastern coast of Australia on Wednesday night.

A surveillance camera showed a man and a woman plunging from the mid deck of the Carnival Spirit about 120km (75 miles) off the coastal town of Forster.

They were only discovered missing after the vessel docked in Sydney, some 300km further south, on Thursday morning.

It is unclear whether the two jumped or fell by accident.

Search teams covered 4,670 sq km of ocean without finding any sign of the pair, police said in a statement.

The operation was called off in failing light on Friday.

The couple have been named by local media as paramedic Paul Rossington, 30, and Kristen Schroder, 27, from Barraba in New South Wales.

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Ms Schroder's family issued a statement requesting "privacy and understanding while we come to terms with our beautiful girl's tragic accident".

Nearly 2,700 passengers were aboard the ship, which is operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, on a South Pacific cruise at the time.

The company said the railing the couple fell over was higher than stipulated by industry safety regulations.

Spokesman Peter Taylor said: "Our thoughts are clearly with their families at this difficult time."

The vessel's last stop before Sydney was Mare Island in New Caledonia on Monday.

The police have launched an investigation.

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