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Search Underway in Australia for Two Missing from Carnival Spirit

WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- A search is underway in Australia for two people who apparently went overboard from a cruise ship Wednesday night off the country's east coast.

Carnival said it became aware of the missing passengers during the debarkation process for its cruise ship Spirit Thursday morning.

"At approximately 9:15am today during the debarkation process for Carnival Spirit at the conclusion of a 10-night cruise in Sydney, it became apparent that two guests, a 26-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, were unaccounted for," Carnival Australia said in a statement.

Per protocol, Carnival said a complete search of the vessel ensued but nothing turned up.  

The cruise line said the two passengers were traveling with family and friends, "and initial reports indicate that the couple was last seen onboard the vessel last night."

"From the information that we received we believe it's been now well over 13-14 hours that those two people have been in the water.  But as far as I'm concerned, as the commander, we are searching for them in the hope that we find them alive out to sea," Mark Hutchings, the Superintendent of New South Wales State Police, said on Thursday.

Carnival said it is working closely with authories in the search.

"We're happy that the area that we're searching in is the right area and there's a fairly large search area of about 520 nautical miles.  But we are getting excellent assistance from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority," Hutchings said.

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