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US Coast Guard Searches Gulf of Mexico for Cruise Ship Passenger

FILE - Carnival Valor cruise ship is docked in its home port of New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.

U.S. Coast Guard and Carnival Cruise Line officials said Thursday a search is underway for a cruise ship passenger who reportedly jumped from her balcony into the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday and is still missing.

In a statement, U.S. Coast Guard Sector New Orleans said it received a call Wednesday reporting a 32-year-old woman on the Carnival Valor cruise ship had gone overboard about 240 kilometers off the coast of Louisiana, a southern U.S. state.

The Coast Guard said it dispatched rescue crews and that an airplane continued searches Thursday.

According to a New Orleans television station, passengers said the missing woman had been involved in an altercation that required ship security to be called. Witnesses said she jumped from approximately 10 stories above the water and that a life preserver had been thrown to her.

Video and pictures posted on social media showed a life preserver floating in the water behind the ship.

A spokesman for the south Florida-based cruise line said it initiated search and rescue procedures before arriving at its home port of New Orleans Thursday morning, concluding a five-day cruise.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.