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US Coast Guard rescues passenger from Carnival cruise ship missing in Gulf of Mexico

(CNN) — In a remarkable act of service and good fortune, a missing man from the Carnival Valor sailing in the Gulf of Mexico was found in the water and rescued on Thursday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The missing passenger was found responsive at the time of the rescue and was transferred to emergency medical personnel on standby at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, USCG NCO Ryan Graves told CNN on Thursday.

The man was last seen by his sister at a bar aboard the Carnival Cruise Line ship Wednesday night, according to a statement CNN obtained from Carnival spokesman Matt Lupoli. The sister said the man left the bar around 11 p.m. to go to the bathroom and never returned to his cabin.

She reported her missing Thursday noon, according to the statement.

“Carnival Valor has retraced its course to support search and rescue,” Lupoli said, and the vessel has since been released by the Coast Guard and is sailing back to Cozumel, Mexico. The Carnival Valor had left the port of New Orleans on Wednesday.

Receiving a call from the cruise ship around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the Coast Guard launched a multi-crew search effort by air and sea, Coast Guard Lt. Phillip VanderWeit said in a statement.

After the man was spotted by a crew on another ship, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew “hoisted the man onto the helicopter,” VanderWeit said.

Mike Anderson, a Carnival Valor passenger, told CNN he saw staff searching for the passenger on Thursday.

Anderson said he began to hear announcements asking the missing passenger to check in with guest services, and “noticed security starting to search the boat with a photo of the missing (passenger) in their phones.”

No official announcement was made at the time telling people on the boat what had happened, he said.

Around 2 p.m., the boat turned around to head home, Anderson said. Passengers were told their arrival time at their port of call, Cozumel, would be delayed, he said. Later Thursday evening, an announcement over the public address system informed guests that there had been a man overboard incident, but the vessel had been released from the search and was resuming its voyage to Cozumel.

CNN’s Dave Alsup, Amanda Jackson and Jose Lesh contributed to this report.

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