Japan’s Coast Guard believes a ship carrying 43 people, including two Australians, may have capsized and sunk, after speaking to a rescued crewman.
The Panamanian-registered vessel called Gulf Livestock 1 was carrying 5867 cattle, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, when it sent a distress call from somewhere to the west of Amami Oshima Island on Wednesday.
Japan’s coastguard and the Maritime Self Defence Force launched a significant search effort in response.
The freighter was also carrying its crew of two Australians, two New Zealanders and 39 Filipinos when it disappeared, the Coast Guard told the ABC.
Only one survivor has been rescued so far, 45-year-old Filipino chief officer Sareno Edvardo, who was found wearing a life vest and drifting in the waters.
"The Japanese coast guard has rescued one person, a Filipino crew member, who was found drifting in rough waters in a life jacket"
Missing NZ cattle ship capsized in typhoon – rescued crew member https://t.co/qR1JW60PvP
— Eleanor Goldsmith 🏴🇳🇿🇯🇵🇪🇺🍵 (@zaichishka) September 3, 2020
Mr Edvardo told authorities one of the ship’s engines lost power before the ship was hit by a wave and capsized.
He said when the ship capsized he was told to put on a lifejacket. He said he jumped in the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.
Strong winds and torrential rain from Typhoon Maysak have been hampering rescue efforts.
The search has continued throughout the day but authorities have not found any more survivors.
Three vessels, five aeroplanes and two divers have been deployed to continue the search, the coastguard said.
The ship left New Zealand on August 14 with 5867 cattle on board and was due to arrive at the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China next Friday.
The Australian and New Zealand foreign ministries are providing consular assistance.
“Owing to our privacy obligations we are unable to provide further comment,” a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said in a statement earlier on Thursday.
The Philippines government said it was co-ordinating with the Japanese as it searched for missing crew members ahead of another typhoon expected to hit the area.