A ship carrying almost 6,000 cattle and 50 crew members capsizes near Japan
Gulf Livestock 1, a ship transporting 5,867 cattle and 43 crew members, capsized in a devastatingly horrific incident.
Seemingly only one, a 45-year-old Filipino named Sereno Edvardo, survived. According to his testimony, on that fateful night, a wave engulfed the ship's deck, where cattle were stacked in open bunks, causing it to assume a dangerous angle. Edvardo was quoted saying that the ship already lost an engine before the incident. “When it was capsizing, an onboard announcement instructed us to wear a life jacket, so I wore a life jacket and jumped into the sea”, he elaborated.
The sister of one of the crew says she was still speaking to her brother over the phone at around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Then, the communication was lost. She even tried to communicate with other crew members, but it was too late.
Distress calls were sent in the wee hours of the day and received at 1:44 a.m. As quickly as possible, the Japanese authorities organised a fleet of three patrol planes and four Coast Guard boats to rescue the survivors 100 nautical miles west of the southern Japanese island of Amami Oshima.
Heart- wrenchingly, 24 hours passed before Edvardo was rescued on the 3rd, floating hopelessly in the East China Sea, a little to the north of South Korea. He was spotted by a Japanese navy P-3C surveillance aircraft. He claims that he saw the ship sink that night.
The massive 456-foot ship was registered to a company in Panama. On 14th August, it sailed from Napier, New Zealand, and was expected to arrive at Chinese ports in Tangshan about 17 days later according to the foreign ministry of New Zealand. No wreckage from the ship has been found yet.
Edvardo was hospitalised on Thursday morning, miraculously retaining the ability to walk according to spokesman for the Coast Guard, Yuichiro Higashi. This feat was a testament to his strong sailor will.
The Philippines government has promised to cooperate with the Japanese coast guard and aid in the search. The DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Osaka is also closely coordinating with local manning agency Korpil ShipManagement and Manning Corp, which is in charge of the employment of the Filipino seafarers for any leads.
This tragedy is one among the many which have occurred over the years that have raised the issue of cattle transportation oversea in gruelling conditions. It is unimaginable that over 6,000 cattle corpses could just be floating around in rigour. New Zealand's Ministry for Primary Industries is momentarily suspending new cattle livestock export applications until the investigation turns up leads but more change is needed.
The expansive violent currents that swept the season Wednesday may be a boon, as smaller debris might be more widespread and may lead to their position, or it may do the opposite by moving those tiny pieces too far. They must use sonar and wave patterns to quickly find evidence and ensure that they do so efficiently, as a new typhoon would make their chances of finding any evidence or closure for the victims’ loved ones, impossible.
Reporter: Katyayani Nath