This is the shocking moment a mass brawl broke out on a cruise ship after the body of woman who fell overboard was found by the US Coast Guard.
Video obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com shows passengers fighting when they were prevented from disembarking from the ship when it arrived back at port.
The 36-year-old woman fell into the water from the port side of MSC Meraviglia at around 5am on Thursday, 18 miles off the coast of Florida.
The ship was due to arrive at Port Canaveral in Florida after its return from Ocean Cay in the Bahamas.
The coast guard launched a search and rescue operation involving a 45-foot vessel and a helicopter. A pilot boat located the woman’s body at around 7.30am and alerted members of the Coast Guard, they confirmed.
It is not clear how the woman came to fall overboard, authorities have said.
Witnesses who were on the cruise recalled how amid the chaos the woman’s body was left uncovered next to the ship in the back of a pickup truck.
Multiple passengers were arrested by US Customs and Border Protection for their involvement in the fight. Crew members were forced to break up the fighting.
MSC Meraviglia – which can carry more than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members – is operated by Italian cruise line MSC Cruises.
Passengers were awoken early in the morning to the sound of notice alerting all passengers that somebody had gone overboard.
Marisa Aebi told DailyMail.com: ‘The first alert was a female voice ”attention! Man overboard, port side”.
‘And that was around 5am I think she repeated this twice? Then a few mins later, they blared the emergency horn – the three blasts.
‘I had a balcony so I went out and it’s obviously super dark, they already had spot lights out and they were turning the ship around very fast.
‘Coast Guard and a other barges showed up to help. We were all told to go to and stay in our rooms as they did a head count.
A man was arrested when the cruise ship arrived at port, hours after the 36-year-old woman’s body was found
Crew members on MSC Meraviglia were forced to break up the fighting
‘She was found about 2 hours later. Several fights broke out during the disembark over how long it was taking to get off. They didn’t let us off until like 12-12.30.
‘Yes it was crazy, definitely not something I ever thought I’d experience for sure. People were arrested during disembark for the fights.’
‘The crew performed an immediate search and rescue operation, alongside the US Coast Guard who supported search efforts with boats and a helicopter,’ it said in a statement.
‘Unfortunately, despite the rapid rescue operation, the passenger sustained fatal injuries. We are offering our full support to authorities as they investigate this matter.’
They have said the woman’s identity will not be released until her next of kin have been notified.
The US Coast Guard transported the body back to port and met with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, who will take over the investigation.
A mass brawl broke out onboard the ship when passengers say they were unable to disembark
Another man who had been on the cruise was arrested when the boat arrived to Port Canaveral
One of the bedrooms on the ship had red and white tape stretched across its door
The ship was due to arrive at Port Canaveral in Florida after its return from Ocean Cay in the Bahamas
The US Coast Guard Seventh District confirmed that the 36-year-old woman’s body was recovered
In a tweet the Coast Guard confirmed recovering the woman’s body:
‘A 36-year-old woman’s body was recovered from the water approximately 18 miles offshore #PortCanaveral Thursday morning after she went overboard the cruise ship Meraviglia. The cause of the incident is under investigation.’
The cruise company alerted passengers of the accident as it happened and quickly announced that arrival in Florida was going to be delayed.
The operator said the woman’s fall from the ship was detected by ‘advanced detection systems.’
‘We are deeply saddened by this incident and offer our sincerest condolences to the family and those affected,’ it said.
The woman’s death comes after last month a 28-year-old man tread water for 20 hours after he fell from a ship into the Gulf of Mexico.
James Michael Grimes was on the first day of a five-day Thanksgiving cruise when he vanished from the boat’s bar.
Grimes said he had to eat floating bamboo and had a brush with a ‘sea creature’ during his 20-hour ordeal in the shark-infested waters.
MSC Meraviglia is docked in Port Canaveral on October 13
MSC Meraviglia – which can carry more than 4,500 passengers and 1,600 crew members – is operated by Italian cruise line MSC Cruises
Brevard County Sheriff’s Office who will take over the investigation
A woman was found dead by the US Coast Guard after she fell overboard from MSC Meraviglia (pictured in Portugal in 2018) around 18 miles from the coast of Florida
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group