One Filipino Rescued, Dozens of Compatriots Missing after Ship Sinks off Japan

Dennis Jay Santos and Richel V. Umel
Davao and Iligan, Philippines
200903-JP-rescue-620.JPG A Filipino sailor is rescued by a Japan Coast Guard boat after a cargo vessel carrying 42 other crew members and thousands of cattle sank in the East China Sea off Japan, Sept. 2, 2020
[Japan Coast Guard Handout/Reuters]

A livestock ship carrying 43 crew members – 39 of them Filipinos – has sunk after encountering engine trouble amid stormy seas off Japan, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

The Gulf Livestock 1, a Panamanian-flagged vessel transporting thousands of cattle, sent out a distress call on Wednesday from the East China Sea that its engine had stopped working. The area is believed to be west of Amami Oshima Island in southwestern Japan.

By late that day, a lone Filipino officer of the boat, Sereno Edvarodo, 45, was plucked from the sea by Japan’s coast guard.

“The Japanese coast guard immediately deployed patrol boats and airplanes to conduct the search for the missing vessel, which is still ongoing,” the Philippine foreign office said in a statement.

“So far, one Filipino was reported to have been rescued by the Japanese coast guard,” it said.

The weather was rough on Wednesday due to Typhoon Maysak but has since improved, according to reports.

The Philippine consulate in Osaka said it was monitoring the situation while the Japanese coast guard continued with the search effort.

The consulate was also in close coordination with Philippine-based agency Kopil Ship Management and Manning Corp., which had deployed the seafarers.

Apart from the Filipino crew, the stricken vessel was also carrying two Australians and two New Zealanders, the department said.

Edvarodo was hospitalized but in good health, according to the Associated Press. He told rescuers that the ship stalled when an engine stopped, then capsized and sank after being hit by a powerful wave, coast guard regional spokesman Yuichiro Higashi was quoted as saying.

The survivor put on a life jacket and jumped into the sea in response to an emergency announcement, and did not see any other crew members after that, Higashi said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had contacted families of its nationals aboard the stricken vessel.

Owned by United Arab Emirates-based Gulf Navigation Holding, the vessel left New Zealand on Aug. 14 with 5,867 cattle on board. It was en route to Tangshan, in China.

The Philippines is a top supplier of seamen around the world. Last year alone, nearly 500,000 were deployed to work in ships, from cargo vessels to cruise ships, according to data from the government.

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