On February 14, 2024, a deeply unfortunate event occurred as an American passenger tragically lost his life after falling off MSC World Europa. The incident took place while the ship was docked in Valletta’s Grand Harbour in Malta.  

Moments before its scheduled departure on February 14, MSC World Europa witnessed a heartbreaking accident as a 72-year-old American man fell overboard while the ship was still docked at Valletta’s Grand Harbour.

Immediate efforts to rescue the man were launched, and a security VHF message was quickly issued, alerting the Armed Forces of Malta and the Civil Protection Department.

The man was swiftly recovered by a life raft from the liner, as reported by the Pilot Boat Foxtrot at 4:33 p.m. (1633 hours). However, the report noted the man appeared to be unconscious.

The Harbour Pilot’s report confirmed the victim’s transport to the hospital by 5:12 p.m. (1712 hours), highlighting the prompt and coordinated response to the emergency.

MSC World Europa Overboard

Despite rapid medical intervention and his urgent transportation to Mater Dei Hospital, the man was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

The diligent efforts of the ship’s crew, local pilots, and emergency services are evident in recorded videos of the incident circulating on social media.

The incident has led to an official inquiry by Magistrate Charmaine Galea, with police investigations currently underway to determine the details of the tragic event.

MSC World Europa, a World-class ship that boasts a passenger capacity of over 6,000, is a 205,700-ton vessel with 21 decks.

The largest of MSC Cruises’ fleet, the vessel embarked on its “7-Night Western Mediterranean” cruise, from Barcelona, Spain, on February 9, making stops in Marseille, France; Genoa and Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; and Palermo, Sicily, before its scheduled call in La Valletta, Malta on February 14.

MSC World Europa Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Solarisys)

The ship arrived in Malta at 9 a.m. (0900 hours) and was slated to depart back to Barcelona at 5 p.m. (1700 hours) when the incident took place.

The unfortunate event on MSC World Europa follows a string of overboard incidents on MSC Cruise ships.

In another distressing event, a passenger went overboard from MSC Preziosa in the early hours of December 30, 2023. At the time, the ship was heading to Angra dos Reis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Despite extensive search and rescue efforts, the male passenger was not located.

A similar case involved a crew member from MSC Seascape, who went missing on November 14, 2023, as the ship sailed toward the Dominican Republic from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Despite a large-scale search operation documented on social media and involving the US Coast Guard over 887 square nautical miles, the 30-year-old crew member of Indian nationality was not found.

MSC Seascape Overboard (Photo Credit: Adel Rahmoune)

Annually, the maritime industry sees an average of 20 overboard cases worldwide. Contrary to common belief, falling overboard does not invariably lead to death. The chance of survival is significantly influenced by the speed of the rescue operation, the conditions at the time of the incident, and environmental factors like sea temperatures and weather conditions.

Most recently, for example, a Turkish man deliberately jumped from MSC Bellissima while it docked in Noha, Japan, surviving the incident. The act, captured by onboard crew members on February 1, 2024, violated immigration laws for illegally entering Japan, leading to his arrest after he swam ashore.

In the event of an overboard situation, the ship’s crew, along with other ships and maritime authorities, are mobilized to conduct search and rescue operations, highlighting the inherent risks and critical importance of emergency preparedness and response in maritime operations.

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