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Coast Guard stops search for missing Carnival Victory crew member

The US Coast Guard has ended the search for the crewmember who fell from the cruise ship Carnival Victory. 

According to the Carnival Cruise Line, the crew member was witnessed falling overboard on July 4, while the ship was about 30 miles off the coast of Cuba and sailing to Miami at the end of a four-day cruise.

In a statement Sunday, the Coast Guard said its search covered nearly 2,600 square miles and lasted over 45 hours before the search was suspended.

“We’ve been in contact with the crewmember’s family throughout our search efforts and know this is a very difficult time for them,” said Michael Mullen, search and rescue mission coordinator at Coast Guard 7th District. “Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.”

Cruise Law News reported that the relatives of the missing crew member identify him as Gaffar Satwilkar, age 37, from India. There are several tweets from passengers stating that the crew member fell while conducting maintenance on the ship.

Andy Hernandez, a passenger sailing on Carnival Victory when the crew member went overboard posted several tweets saying “Never experienced anything like this. Man went overboard on Carnival Victory. Crew member fell according to other crew members while conducting maintenance on the back of the ship. My heart goes for this man and his family.” 

Later he posted another tweet saying “According to another crew member his harness broke or wasn’t put on correctly.”

Cruise Law News has also posted a message from another passenger Jessica, who tweeted “We were on this cruise and he did not have any PPE equipment on at all, according to a senior officer I overheard talking. They weren’t happy. I heard them say he fell off the side, not the back. They said he had on very heavy deck boots. It breaks my heart.”

If true, these are very serious allegations against Carnival Cruise Line stating that the crew member was without any personal protection equipment while on duty.

Imran Naikwadi relative of the missing crew member says that his family in India didn’t receive any information and they are all worried. He states that the family was contacted only once and informed that the crew member slipped and fell in the sea. Beyond that, they have no news. No contact number, no phone call from the Care Team.

Shortly after the crewmember Gaffar Satwilkar fell overboard, a crew member expressed his heartfelt emotion, and sadness on twitter saying “I lost a friend today he fell overboard RIP, Carnival Victory Family #CarnivalVictory” Later he deleted his Twitter account.

As crew members, we are required to keep the ship and activities running as normal in these difficult times. Even when we lose a dear friend and a team member we need to work without our emotions interfering with our daily routine. But we are not only crew members, we are first and foremost humans and feel the pain and sorrow knowing that we lost one of our own. Rest in Peace Gaffar Satwilkar. Condolences to his family back in India.