Bonn Police and rescue workers searched in vain for a woman who is believed to have fallen into the Rhine from a hotel ship near Bonn. The police initiated a homicide investigation but a man who was questioned is no longer considered a suspect.
An emergency call came on Thursday evening around 9:45 p.m.: a 42-year-old member of the cruise ship staff reported that a 25-year-old woman had fallen off the hotel ship near the Kennedy Bridge in Bonn. Despite an intensive search, the missing woman was not found. Members of the fire department, the water police and the crew of a police helicopter searched the river and shore area. As of Friday evening, there has been no trace of the woman.
The Rhine Princess, a ship with four passenger decks, was heading for Cologne, where the guests were to disembark on Friday. At night they had to leave the ship at the Bonn jetty and go home. The police sent a forensics team on board and questioned witnesses. Nobody else had seen, however, whether and how the woman had gone overboard, police spokesman Robert Scholten said later. On Friday morning, divers also came to the landing stage 15. However, due to the strong current, they could not get into the water.
Incident followed a dispute
Due to the unusual circumstances, the homicide squad had been called in, said Scholten. During questioning at the police headquarters on Friday, the 42-year-old man reported a dispute between him and the missing person. Following that dispute, the 25-year-old went on deck and fell into the Rhine.
"From the initial investigations on site, a possible suspicion had developed against the 42-year-old acquaintance of the woman," the police said in the afternoon. The 42-year-old was released after questioning.
The ship involved is the "Rhine Princess", as Willem de Zeeuw, Managing Director of Rivercruise Line AG in Basel, confirmed to the GA. The river cruise ship had been on its way to Cologne, where the passengers were to disembark on Friday.
Missing woman was staff member on the Rhine Princess for some time
The missing woman is from Indonesia, as is the 42-year-old man. "She had been on board as a ship's hostess for several months," said de Zeeuw. It can be assumed that she knew her way around the ship well. "We still have hope," said the managing director. "But the more time goes by, the more difficult it will be." Other Indonesians, who are part of the crew, had already organized a traditional ceremony on the ship after the disappearance of the woman. According to GA information, the missing person and the witness had a relationship.
The police have no doubt that the woman - apparently a non-swimmer - really fell into the Rhine. "We are also investigating indications of suicide," said Scholten. The 42-year-old was no longer under suspicion and had been dismissed in consultation with the public prosecutor's office. The investigations are continuing and are to be taken over by Criminal Investigation Department 12, which is also responsible for missing persons cases.
Orig. text: Andreas Baumann, Sebastian Fink