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A cargo ship carrying 43 crew members and 5,800 cows has gone missing in rough seas caused by Typhoon Maysak, with a survivor saying the vessel sank.
The Panamanian-registered Gulf Livestock 1 left New Zealand on 14 August, and was due into the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China, yesterday (4 September), with the Kyodo news agency reporting that the crew comprised 39 Filipinos, two Australians and two New Zealanders.
However, it ran into stormy conditions in the East China Sea, as Japan’s meteorological agency warns the storm could be the third biggest to hit the country since records began almost 70 years ago.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reports that ship sent a distress call to the Japanese Coastguard at around 1.20am Wednesday from the East China Sea, to the west of Amami Ōshima island in south-west Japan.
Chief officer Eduardo Sareno, from the Philippines, was the first to be rescued off the coast of Japan on Wednesday after surveillance aircraft spotted him in the water wearing a life vest, waving up.
According to Yuichiro Higashi, a spokesman for the Japanese Coastguard’s regional headquarters, 45-year-old Sareno told rescuers the ship had capsized before it sank.
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He said the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave, causing it to capsize.
At this point, crew members on board were told to put life jackets on, with Sareno saying he jumped into the water as the boat began to go under.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila, Sareno – who is in hospital in Japan but currently in good health – feared not everyone had been able to hear the instruction to put life jackets on.
On Friday morning, search teams found a second crew member floating, unconscious, near Japan’s Amami Oshima Island, which is midway between Okinawa and Kyushu.
The Japan Coastguard said he was taken to hospital, but sadly later died.
A third man was also discovered in a life raft on Friday afternoon, located 2km (1.2m) from Kodakara island.
The 30-year-old Filipino, named Jay-Nel Rosals, was taken to hospital and is walking and talking, according to the Japan Coastguard.
The corpse of a cow has also been seen floating in the waters nearby, along with an empty life raft.