Freighter with 39 Filipino crew, 4 others missing off southwestern Japan

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 03 2020 05:25 AM

A freighter with 43 foreign crew members and about 5,800 head of cattle aboard went missing Wednesday while traveling in the stormy East China Sea, with one crew member later rescued, the Japan Coast Guard said.

The 11,947-ton Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call around 1:45 a.m. when it was about 185 kilometers west of Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, according to the coast guard.

The coast guard launched a search operation, joined by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, with a surveillance aircraft. The MSDF found a lifeboat and a person with a life vest drifting around the waters Wednesday night, the Defense Ministry said.

Following the rescue of the Filipino male crew member, the coast guard said his health condition was not life-threatening.

The crew members of the Panamanian-registered vessel consist of two Australians, 39 Filipinos including the captain and two New Zealanders. The coast guard initially said a Singaporean was aboard but later corrected it and said the person was Australian.

The coast guard dispatched patrol boats to the area in search of the vessel, which left New Zealand on Aug. 14 and was scheduled to arrive in China next Friday.

Bad weather is hampering the operation. There were strong winds and torrential rain in the area Wednesday due to Typhoon Maysak, according to the weather station in Kagoshima.