This Monday, the US Coast Guard confirmed that a cargo ship reported missing since Thursday must have sunk during hurricane Joaquin.
The ship, identified as El Faro, had a crew of 33 aboard, among them 28 Americans. The vessel was lost near the Bahamas, while en route from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The ship is nowhere in sight
The US Coast Guard has been looking for the cargo ship since last Friday, the day after the ship went missing. All they've found is debris. In an update this Monday, Captain Mark Fedor explains rescuers are no longer trying to locate the ship. Rather, they are focusing on finding any survivors.
Reports say the US Coast Guard has so far retrieved the body of an unidentified person found in a survival suit. As mentioned, they've also found debris.
“Coast Guard search and rescue crews have located multiple objects in the water in the search area for the El Faro. Life jackets, life rings, containers and an oil sheen have been located by Coast Guard air crews,” officials in charge of the search write in a report detailing the progress made so far.
For now, the debris hasn't been confirmed to originate from the lost El Faro. Still, the US Coast Guard is pretty sure the cargo ship was hit by the hurricane and sank.
The captain hoped to get ahead of the storm
It is understood that, when the captain and the crew of the cargo ship decided to set sail, Joaquin had not yet progressed to a full-blown hurricane. Rather, it was just a tropical storm. Their plan was to get ahead of it and reach the Bahamas before it did.
In a statement, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, owner of the missing 790-foot-long (240 meters) cargo ship, explains that the El Faro set sail on September 29. Come Thursday, October 1, as Joaquin became a hurricane, all communication with the vessel was lost.
The US Coast Guard was notified immediately. Unfortunately, all efforts to reestablish communication and locate the ship failed. TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico is now working closely with rescue crews to try and locate any survivors, maybe even find the vessel.
“We have reached out to the families of those impacted and have established open lines of communication to provide them with timely updates. Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families,” President Tim Nolan said in a statement.