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Published On: Mon, Oct 5th, 2015

Coast Guard: One body remains found, search ongoing

The U.S. Coast Guard’s search Monday to locate any survivors of a cargo ship that sank in a Category 4 hurricane on Thursday resulted in one body as the search continues.

Crews found human remains near the ship’s last known whereabouts, according to the Coast Guard.

The El Faro had 28 Americans and five Polish nationals on board when it lost power near raging Hurricane Joaquin.

“We’re not gonna discount somebody’s will to survive, and that’s why we’re still searching today,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District.

U.S. Navy photo by Airman Ricardo J. Reyes

U.S. Navy photo by Airman Ricardo J. Reyes

Search crews received multiple reports of immersion suits, lifeboats and life rafts in the water on Sunday, but hopes were dashed at every turn.

“In one of the survival suits there were human remains,” Fedor said, but not revealing any other details. Fedor confirmed that there were two lifeboats and 46 survival suits on the El Faro. One of the lifeboats has been located with “no signs of life.”

Fewer than a handful of the survival suits have been found, Fedor said.

The ship vanished Thursday en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida as Joaquin slammed the Bahamas.

The search is centered in two major debris fields using three Coast Guard cutters, three commercial tugs and several aircraft.

It was a Navy P-8 aircraft flying at 27,000 feet on Sunday that spotted the largest debris field during a mission that covered 70,000-square nautical miles.

The 33 people aboard the El Faro had to abandon ship and try to survive in treacherous conditions.

“I don’t know what the master was thinking or what his company told him,” Fedor said.

“These are trained mariners. They know how to abandon ship,” Fedor said. But “those are challenging conditions to survive.”

The El Faro was carrying 294 trailers and automobiles in its hold, in addition to the 391 shipping containers above deck, as it battled 20 to 30 foot seas, according to Fedor.

Phil Greene, president and CEO of ship owner Tote Services Inc., said the captain had a plan to sail ahead of the hurricane with room to spare.

Greene said the captain, whose name has not been released, had conferred with the El Faro’s sister ship — which was returning to Jacksonville along a similar route — and determined the weather was good enough to go forward.

“Regrettably he suffered a mechanical problem with his main propulsion system, which left him in the path of the storm,” Greene said. “We do not know when his engine problems began to occur, nor the reasons for his engine problems.”

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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