Woman, 20s, presumed dead after five-floor holiday cruise ship plunge

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A woman in her 20s is presumed dead after falling into the Pacific from the balcony of a Carnival cruise ship.

Officials say the unidentified woman was announced missing from the Carnival Miracle cruise ship, which is sailing from Long Beach to Mexico, at around 3.30am on Saturday.

The woman reportedly fell off the fifth-floor balcony and into waters about 35 miles off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico.

Mexico's Navy and the Coast Guard assisted in the search on Saturday morning and overnight, but around 10.30am on Sunday, the Southern California USCG announced crews were standing down after a 31+ hour search.

The Miracle left Long Beach on Thursday, December 9 and was scheduled to return on Saturday, December 11 as part of a three-day voyage.

A paramedic onboard said there is suspicion of foul play, and a picture of the deck the woman fell from showed broken pieces of the balcony.

Crews alerted passengers and searched the waters when they became aware a woman had gone missing early Saturday morning.

The ship, which returned to Long Beach on Sunday, was also searched on Saturday night.

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The Carnival Miracle Cruise ship boasts 12 decks and a 2,100 capacity, but only 1,100 people appeared to be on board.

Daniel Miranda, a passenger onboard during the incident, spoke to the media about the event.

"About 3am, we were awakened by a general announcement across the ship with a warning going, 'Man overboard! Man overboard! Man overboard!'" Miranda said.

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"So the ship has been given limited information. They told us we were stuck looking for the lady, and then they called us to clear us up.

"The crews have been very tight-lipped and of course, they've had different areas of the ship that have cordoned off for their search then they were searching," he added.

Speaking to ABC 7, Miranda said: "Someone has lost their life, whether it was done by accident or by foul play I don't know – there's some high suspicion of foul play.

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"A lot of people are concerned because that's somebody's life, and that's a high likelihood that this person will not be found alive."

The FBI was waiting to assist in the investigation once the ship arrived at Long Beach.

"They immediately did their best efforts to get crews out on little boats and rescue, to start a search," Miranda said about the cruise line.

USCG used a Fast Response Cutter, a 154-foot patrol boat and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew.

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"They had a crew literally around the deck to look all the way around the ship to be able to see if somebody was out in the water. They had lights out in the water trying to flash out there, but again it's pretty dark," he added.

On Saturday, Carnival Cruise Line issued a statement about the incident.

"We advised Carnival Miracle guests this morning of an overboard incident involving one of our guests from the balcony of her stateroom. Our thoughts are with the guest and her family, and our care team is providing support," the statement read.

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