The search for more than 30 Filipino crew of the cargo ship that capsized in southwestern Japan on Wednesday, was suspended by the Japanese coastguard as another typhoon barreled towards the country, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The Panamanian-registered vessel, Gulf Livestock 1, a cargo ship carrying 43 crew members and nearly 6,000 cattle sent a distress call early on Wednesday from the East China Sea, before it sank off the coast of Japan after reportedly losing an engine in rough seas caused by Typhoon Maysak.
The DFA, quoting reports from the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and the consulate general in Osaka said Typhoon “Haishen,” locally known as Typhoon “10,” was expected to hit the vicinity of Amami Oshima island in Kagoshima on Saturday prompting the suspension of rescue operations.
Japanese rescuers had already found three of the ship’s crew—including two Filipinos and another crewman of unannounced nationality. The crew consisted of 39 Filipinos, two New Zealanders and two Australians.
First to be rescued was the vessel’s 45-year-old Filipino chief officer Eduardo Sareno, who was found at sea by the coastguard and rescued late on Wednesday. The second was found alive but unconscious near Amami Oshima on Friday morning, but the sailor later died.
The third crew member to be rescued was 30-year-old deckhand Jay-Nel Rosales, who was found Friday afternoon by a search plane as he was waving for help on a life raft about two kilometres off Kodakara island.
The DFA said the two rescued Filipinos had already been in contact with their families.
Sareno, who was in good health, told authorities that the ship’s main engine failed before the vessel was struck by a big wave and capsized. He said the crew had put on their life jackets and they all jumped into the water.
The vessel, owned by Gulf Navigation Holding based in Dubai, UAE was transporting 5,867 live cows. It sailed last Aug. 14 from Napier, New Zealand, and was heading to the Chinese port city of Tangshan.
In a statement on its website, the company said “Our hearts go out to those onboard and their families at this time. We also express deep regret for the sad loss of the livestock on board. We are monitoring the situation closely and working closely with those involved in rescue efforts. We pray that there are other survivors”.
Several maritime reports logged over the past two years showed that the ship may have had some mechanical defects and revealed operational concerns.
A December inspection report from Indonesian authorities on the website of Equasis, which collates ship safety information from both public and private sources, logged issues with the ship’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery.
The issues included “deficiencies” with the propulsion main engine, gauges and thermometers.
A 2019 report by the Australian government on the cattle ship’s transit in June from Australia to Indonesia noted the vessel’s departure was delayed for a week because of “stability and navigation issues identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.”
The Japanese coastguard said on Friday it had not set a deadline to end the search for survivors. (Source: INQUIRER.net)