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Body found on Clearwater Beach identified as cruise ship worker

CLEARWATER BEACH — A man's body washed up on the beach Friday morning in the 1500 block of Gulf Boulevard near the Ultimar condominium complex on Sand Key, a Clearwater Police Department spokesman said.

The man, Cliford B. Minej, 27, of Thane, India, was a worker on a Holland America Line cruise ship. His body, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, drifted ashore around 7:15 a.m. and was spotted by someone walking on the beach.

The ship, named Ryndam, came to port in Tampa on Sunday, and police believe Minej jumped or fell off the ship near Egmont Key early that morning.

He was last seen on the ship around 3 a.m., when it was near the island, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman.

Since the captain of the ship didn't notify authorities of Minej's disappearance until 8 a.m., after the ship docked, the Coast Guard didn't know if he had gone overboard or disembarked at the cruise terminal.

Multiple area law enforcement agencies searched land and sea but were called off around 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, Johnson said.

The Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Minej's death accidental.

According to a statement from Holland America Line, the ship was at the end of a 14-day trip to the Caribbean. No other information about Minej was released.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our crew members and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time," the statement said.

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