The family of a B.C. woman who went missing from a cruise ship off Florida say they want the U.S. Coast Guard to resume the search for her.
Fariba Amani, 47, of Port Moody, B.C., apparently disappeared from the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship on Feb. 29 while the vessel was sailing to Palm Beach, Fla., from Freeport on Grand Bahama Island.
Amani's sister says the missing woman was a strong swimmer and experienced scuba diver who could have survived at sea for days, but the coast guard called off its search for her after 1½ days.
"I think the coast guard should continue looking, that it’s possible from what I've read that a body might not turn up right away," said Sally Amani.
The woman was reported missing by her boyfriend, Ramiz Golshani, just before the ship docked at 8 a.m. ET Feb. 29.
Golshani said he last saw Amani near the ship's duty-free shop at about 1 a.m. He said he then proceeded to their cabin and went to bed and didn’t notice her missing until he awoke hours later, when he notified the ship's crew.
The FBI was called in and interviewed Golshani but did not detain him. Goshani has not been charged with anything and he has since returned to his home in Port Moody, a suburb of Vancouver.
Few surveillance cameras
Amani's family say she was a non-drinker and it would have been virtually impossible for her to fall overboard.
"It can't be an accident. If you look at pictures of the cruise boat, they have a railing that's waist high, almost shoulder height,” said her sister Sally Amani. “No one could just simply lean over and fall."
The family is also angry that the cruise ship didn't have more surveillance cameras on deck.
"It’s incredible to me that they don't have cameras. This could have been solved so quickly if they had cameras on the perimeters," Amani said.
The Celebration Cruise Line, which owns the Bahamas Celebration, told CBC News Tuesday that the ship does have some cameras installed.
"There is surveillance video on board. The cameras are in a few select places. We have turned over what we have to the FBI," the statement said.
The police force in Amani’s hometown confirms it's now involved.
"The Port Moody Police Department is currently assisting the FBI in their missing person investigation," said Const. Luke van Winkel.
Amani's sister, 27, said that while she has spoken with the U.S. Coast Guard, the FBI and even the president of the cruise line company, she has yet to talk to Golshani, who has since returned to Canada.
"He hasn't tried to contact us at all since his return," she told The Canadian Press in an interview.
Golshani told CBC News Monday that he told the FBI everything he knows.
"The FBI has all sides of my story. If I had any per cent of a guilt, I would not be out," he said.
Golshani declined further comment Tuesday, other than to say, “I'm mentally, I'm not quite at the right place to speak."
Sally Amani said her sister's relationship with Golshani was troubled and that she had planned to break up with him after the cruise.
Difficult for children
Michael Leverock, a special agent with the FBI, declined to comment in an email to The Canadian Press.
"We are not releasing any information on the matter," he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and customs officials believe Fariba was on the ship when it left the Bahamas on Feb. 28 because passengers must swipe a card to board the ship.
Saloumeh said the last week has been very difficult for her sister's children — a son, who's in his 30s, and a daughter, who is in her 20s, and the siblings are sticking together.
It's also been tough for the rest of the family who must now wait for an investigation to wind up.
"That's the most difficult part is waiting for other people to do something for you," Sally Amani said. "You can't help but want to do it yourself and to get out there and get involved and take care of it."
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