TOKYO: More than 40 crew members were missing after a ship carrying cattle from New Zealand to China capsized in stormy weather in the East China Sea near Japan.
According to the Japanese coastguard, a lone crew member from the Gulf Livestock 1 had been rescued so far. Three vessels, four aeroplanes and two divers were taking part in the search.
The ship, with a cargo of nearly 6,000 cattle, sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak lashed the area with strong winds and heavy seas.
Sareno Edvarodo, a 45-year-old chief officer from the Philippines, was rescued on Wednesday night. He is still the only person rescued so far while the bodies of some cattle had been recovered.
Edvarodo told coastguards that the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized and crew were instructed to put on lifejackets. Edvarodo said he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.
The crew includes 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and two from Australia. The Philippines government said it was coordinating with the Japanese coastguard in the search.
Typhoon Maysak made landfall in South Korea on Thursday, bringing lashing winds, and at least two people were killed in the southern city of Busan. Another storm, Typhoon Haishen, was brewing south of Japan and is expected to hit the Korean coast on Sunday or Monday.
The Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with a cargo of 5,867 cattle bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days.
The 139-metre Panamanian-flagged vessel was built in 2002 and the registered owner is Amman-based Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA. The ship manager is Hijazi & Ghosheh Co.
The cows were exported by Australia-headquartered Australasian Global Exports, which specialises in live animal exports and owns quarantine facilities in China, and were worth around 20,000 yuan each.
China has imported more than 46,000 head of cattle from New Zealand so far this year, according to data from China’s customs, to stock the country’s expanding dairy farms.