Livestock carrier with 43 crew goes missing off southwestern Japan

Japan Coast Guard vessels (Photo: Japan Coast Guard)

Japanese officials have confirmed that a live export ship with 43 crew and approximately 5,800 cattle on board has gone missing in the East China Sea off southwestern Japan.

The Japan Coast Guard said the crew of Gulf Livestock 1 sent out a distress call at around 01:45 local time on Wednesday, September 2, while it was some 185 kilometres off Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima prefecture.

A subsequent joint search and rescue (SAR) operation by the coast guard and the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) lasted well into the late evening of Wednesday. However, no trace of the distressed vessel has yet been found.

The JMSDF said it has picked up a survivor wearing a life jacket and floating in the water near Gulf Livestock 1‘s last reported position.

The rescued individual has been confirmed as one of the missing vessel’s 39 Filipino crewmembers. His identity and his condition have not been disclosed, though officials have assured that he had not sustained any life-threatening injuries.

Besides the 39 Filipino sailors, the other four crewmembers included two Australians and two New Zealanders.

The coast guard and the JMSDF are continuing their search for the missing vessel, its remaining crew, and its cargo of cattle even as the area has been experiencing strong winds and torrential rain brought about by Typhoon Maysak.

Gulf Livestock 1 departed New Zealand on August 14 and was en route to China just before it disappeared.

The same vessel had developed engine trouble while conducting sea trials out of Indonesia in late July, prompting the Indonesian and Philippine navies to render assistance.

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