42 Believed Lost with 1 Survivor from Livestock Carrier off Japan

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Japan’s Coast Guard confirmed that it had saved one crew member from the livestock carrier Gulf Livestock 1 while also reported that its search and rescue teams had failed to find any other survivors. The vessel is confirmed lost likely claiming the lives of 42 seafarers.

According to the Japanese authorities, they spotted the one individual in the water in a life jacket and he waved to their aircraft surveying the area. He was later plucked from the ocean and identified as a 45-year-old Filipino, Sareno Edvardo, who was the chief officer aboard the livestock carrier. He was reported to be in good condition in a Japanese hospital.

The Japan Coast Guard relayed the details of the loss of the ship based on its interview with the sole survivor. The ship was sailing in the East China Sea encountering heavy weather associated with Typhoon Maysak. At 2 a.m. on September 2, around the time the vessel issued its distress call, the storm was reported to be a category 3 storm with winds at 115 mph.

The survivor told the coast guard that the ship had lost power and the waves were washing over the deck after the power went off. The ship had begun to list and they were ordered to put on life jackets. He had ended up going overboard.

The Gulf Livestock 1 ultimately capsized and sunk the survivor reported. He was in the ocean for 24-hours during the storm and said that he did not see any other survivors.

The Japan Coast Guard continued to search the area both by land and sea. While conditions were improving after the typhoon went ashore in Korea, the coast guard has not reported finding any other material from the ship. Early reports indicated that they might have spotted a life raft from the ship but it was empty. Th search efforts, however, are also being hampered by a second storm, Typhoon Haishen which is expected to follow a similar track.

Authorities in Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines have all been responding to the loss of the ship as each nation is reported to have had crew members on board. 

In the wake of the accident, animal rights activities have also increased their calls for action to ban the live export of animals. In New Zealand, where the 5,600 cattle that were aboard the ship were loaded, the government was quick to respond saying that future live exports were suspending pending an investigation into the incident. 

The 440-foot vessel, which was built in 2002 as a cargo ship, had been converted into a livestock carrier in 2012. The New Zealand animal rights group SAFE is reported that the ship had a previous history of engine problems. They are saying that the ship was adrift for 25 hours until repairs could be made in July 2019 after it also experienced an engine failure. Other groups are questioning the safety of the vessel based on the conversion from a cargo ship and an incident in May 2019 when the Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained the vessel for three days.

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