A desperate search is underway for a teenage girl who is believed to have fallen overboard from a luxury cruise liner sailing between Menorca and Mallorca.
The missing passenger, believed to be from America and wearing pink pyjamas, was last seen by her parents at 1am on Saturday when they went to bed and she stayed out on the balcony.
She was declared missing in the early hours of yesterday when guests on board the Norwegian Epic were asked to scour the deck for any signs of her in the sea.
Passengers were forced to search the boat for hours while it travelled back to the spot where she is believed to have fallen into ‘rocky’ waters.
The cruise ship departed Cannes in the south of France on Friday and was due to arrive in Palma, Mallorca on Saturday
A girl, believed to be in her teens and wearing pink pyjamas is believed to have gone overboard the Norweigan Epic cruise liner (pictured leaving Southampton in 2010) as it sailed from Menorca to Mallorca on Saturday
She has still not been found with a 40-mile sea search still underway.
The ship, which left Cannes, France on Friday and was due into Palma de Mallorca on Saturday, turned around at around 8.30am to return to the spot where crew believed the girl fell.
It stayed in the area travelling back and fourth for more than 12 hours, when it got too dark to continue the search.
At around 9.30pm on Saturday the boat resumed its journey to its next stop – Barcelona, with the girl’s family telling crew she was not a strong swimmer and unlikely to have survived.
Dr Kyjuan Brown, a passenger from Bermuda, told
‘The balcony of the ship was lined by passengers looking overboard for the missing girl.
Around 8pm the search was called off and the captain informed us that according to the family she could not swim at all. Given the conditions it’s unlikely she would have survived.
‘Everyone felt for the family. It’s horrible to go on vacation and leave without a family member.’
One of the passengers, Rebekah Sanderlin, 20, tweeted yesterday: ‘I’m on the Norwegian Epic cruise ship in the Mediterranean & we’ve spent all day looking for a passenger who fell overboard last night. People are saying it was an American teenage girl.’
Ms Sanderlin told weather.com: ‘At about 8.30M, the captain came on the speaker and said the ship was turning around to go back to look for a passenger who he said they had ‘good evidence’ had gone overboard.
‘After about two hours of sailing, he came on the speaker again and said that we were in the area where she went overboard.’
‘The captain asked every passenger to go to the deck railings and help look for her in the water.
Passengers on board the Norwegian Epic confirmed staff declared the teenage girl missing in the early hours of Saturday with a search still underway
‘He told us she had last been seen in pink pyjamas. He did not tell us her age or any other details.
‘Thousands of passengers stood at the rails looking for hours. We have stayed in that location, not moving, all day.
‘There are some planes flying overhead but I do not see any other ships or boats.’
Passenger Alexa March also wrote on Twitter yesterday: ‘I am currently on board. With multiple planes and helicopters and hours of looking we had to continue back to port.
‘I’ve been praying all day to find her. The staff and local authorities did everything they could in search efforts. My thoughts and prayers go out to this family.’
Maritime Rescue received an urgent call for help at dawn on Saturday, reporting that a passenger had apparently fallen overboard about 40 miles north-northwest of Menorca.
A helicopter and several boats were sent out, together with a plane and the cruise liner itself.
A warning of distress has been activated to all navigators in the area.
At the time of the incident, the Norwegian Epic was heading towards the port of Palma, Mallorca (pictured)
A statement from Norwegian Cruise Lines yesterday reads: ‘Early this morning a report was made that an adult female guest went overboard while the ship was sailing from Cannes, France, to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
‘The authorities were immediately notified and a search and rescue operation ensued. The search remains underway.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual’s family during this difficult time.’
The cruise liner is believed to be heading back to Barcelona. Maritime Rescue says the search will continue throughout the night depending on the weather conditions.
The Norwegian Epic can carry 4,100 passengers and was as the third largest cruise ship in the world when built. It first sailed in 2010.