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Family seeks answers in disappearance of Italian chef from cruise ship

December 8, 2009 | 11:42 am

Lanow.chef Family members of an Italian chef who disappeared during a 15-day cruise left town Monday night with few answers after meeting with authorities and Princess Cruises officials in San Pedro, the port for the ship the man had been working on

Angelo Faliva, a first cook on the Coral Princess, walked out of the kitchen in the middle of his shift on Nov. 25 and never came back to work, family members said. Cruise line officials said another crew member spotted the chef early the next morning, but by the time the ship docked in Cartagena, Colombia, later that day, Faliva was gone.

Faliva’s sister, Chiara Faliva, flew from Italy to Los Angeles to meet with authorities and now is en route to Cartagena in search of more information about her brother’s disappearance.

“My brother was happy,” another sister, Anna Faliva, said in an e-mail to The Times, noting that the family maintained daily contact with him online. “He loved his job and life.”

Princess Cruises spokeswoman Julie Benson said the cruise line initiated a complete search of the ship and notified the Colombian Coast Guard by emergency radio message. A review of images taken by the ship's security cameras did not reveal any information, she said.

In addition to a search by Colombian authorities, the ship launched rescue craft to search the waters in the area and continued looking until dark without success.

Officials are working on the assumption that Faliva went overboard as the ship was en route to Cartagena, though Benson said that information has not been confirmed. “We are really very puzzled,” Benson said. “We don’t know what happened.”

At the request of the Italian Consulate, FBI officials boarded the ship to investigate when it docked in San Pedro on Monday morning, but the investigation is being handled by police in Bermuda, where the ship is registered.

-- Kimi Yoshino

Photo: Angelo Faliva. Credit: Anna Faliva