5 Sep 2020

Japanese rescue crews find another survivor from missing freighter

6:16 am on 5 September 2020

Japanese rescue crews have found another survivor from a live export ship that sank off the country's south-west on Wednesday.

No caption

The life raft in which a 30-year-old Filipino was found by the Japanese Coast Guard. Photo: Japan Coast Guard

Authorities found the sailor, a 30-year-old Filipino, on a life raft. He was conscious and able to walk by himself.

The Japanese Coast Guard said a local government office made an emergency call at about 3pm (local time), saying it could see an "orange-coloured boat on the sea".

The Coast Guard diverted one of its search aircraft to the area and located the man who was wearing a life jacket.

A patrol ship rescued him an hour later before the search for 40 other missing sailors was later suspended, with the powerful Typhoon Haishen heading towards the search area.

Earlier in the day, a coast guard crew found the body of another sailor who was pronounced dead. His identity is not known.

The Gulf Livestock One left the port of Napier last month with 43 crew on board, including two New Zealanders, and almost 6000 cattle - bound for China.

The vessel also had two Australians and 39 Filipinos on board when it issued a distress call early on Wednesday.

No caption

The Gulf Livestock 1. Photo: Splash247.com

So far two Filipino crew have been rescued and are being treated by authorities, but 40 crew remain missing - including the two New Zealanders and the two Australians.

Family and friends of 25-year-old Australian vet Lukas Orda are desperately hoping he will be found safe.

Lukas Orda's father said he was extraordinarily grateful for the search and rescue teams and he remained hopeful they would find the remaining crew members.

Filipino crew member Eduardo Sareno was rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard on Thursday night.

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.

A Japanese Coast Guard vessel that has been involved in the search for the missing crew members. Photo: AFP

Video of the rescue shows Sareno, wearing a singlet and shorts, being helped aboard a coast guard vessel in wild weather conditions.

"Thank you, thank you. Did you get some crew there also? In the Gulf? I am not … I'm the only one?" he asks.

"No other one? I am so … I don't know what's happening to some of my crew."

Sareno told coast guard workers the ship's engine cut out.

He said the vessel was then hit by a huge wave, causing it to capsize.

The Panamanian-registered, 11,947-ton ship sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in south-west Japan as Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas.

It was carrying 5867 live cattle on its way to China, and the cause of the distress call was not immediately known.

On Friday morning, rescuers saw dozens of dead cattle floating in the sea, and a lifejacket with the name "Gulf Livestock" on it.

Authorities also found oil floating on the sea 150 kilometres north-west of the island of Amami Oshima.

The search is expected to resume after Typhoon Haishen passes through the area.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs