Australia: Police launch homicide investigation into cruise ship for disembarking passengers with coronavirus

BREAKING: Australian police raided the Ruby Princess cruise ship which disembarked hundreds of passengers infected with the coronavirus in Sydney, as a part of a homicide investigation into the country’s deadliest infection source.

Detectives protected in hazmat suits seized the cruise ship “black box” and other evidence in a raid on the Ruby Princess, anchored in Port Kembla, on Wednesday night.

“Ships have a black box very similar to that of international planes, and that and other evidence has been seized for further investigation,” the police said.

The recorded data may hold the key to why health authorities were led to believe it was safe to allow 2,700 passengers to disembark in Sydney on March 19, despite fears of coronavirus outbreak on board.

The Carnival Corporation-owned Ruby Princess has now effectively become a crime scene and a criminal investigation had been launched.

Evidence relating to the crews’ “communications, actions, and…other items of interest” was seized during the Strike Force Bast raid, NSW Police said on Thursday.

Crew members who remain on board the ship, including the captain, were also interviewed by detectives.

The vessel is expected to remain at Port Kembla for 10 days with 1,040 crew members undergoing medical assessments.

About 200 crew have shown symptoms of coronavirus, while 18 crew have so far tested positive.

More than 6,000 Australians have contracted the coronavirus, with 51 dead.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Thursday announced 96 new cases of the disease, the lowest infection rate since strict social distancing measures came into place.