10 Sep 2020

Gulf Livestock 1: Search for crew of capsized cattle ship called off

12:14 pm on 10 September 2020

The search for the missing crew, including two New Zealanders, in the East China Sea has been called off.

Japan Coast Guard Patrol Ship Kudaka conducts a search operation of a Panamanian freighter Gulf Livestock 1 which sent a distress signal off of Amami Oshima in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sep. 3, 2020.

The Japanese Coast Guard patrol ship Kudaka had been involved in the search for the Gulf Livestock 1 which has now been called off. Photo: AFP

The ship, the Gulf Livestock 1, sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in south-western Japan last Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas. It was carrying 43 crew members and thousands of cows.

Three people were found, two were alive but one man was unconscious and later died.

The search and rescue was suspended over the weekend, when a second typhoon battered the area and resumed on Monday but daily searches using planes and boats found no clues.

On Wednesday evening, the Japanese Coastguard said they would stop the exclusive search for the missing crew from the ship, Gulf Livestock 1.

Scott Harris, 37, from Palmerston North and Southland man Lochie Bellerby are missing.

Harris' mother, Karen Adrian, said she was devastated to hear the search had been called off, and there was nothing she could do.

In a statement, the Bellerby family told RNZ, they understand the decision to scale back the search.

"It is a busy shipping area and we understand local search and rescue teams remain in the area as the country responds to the aftermath of the typhoons."

The family said they still remained hopeful.

"Lochie is a very capable and strong person both physically and mentally."

They said they were thankful for the ongoing support from MFAT, Maritime NZ, NZ Police, Interpol, friends and their community.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the news will be disappointing for families.

He said the search is down to the Panama authorities, where the ship is registered, and there have been eight long days of extensive searching in international waters.

Peters said the government is doing all it can to help the families and facilitate flights for them to Japan if it can be organised to get there.

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