The missing ro-ro cargo ship El Faro is believed to have sunk off the Bahamas and one body has been found, while search and rescue efforts continue for the missing 32 other people, according to the US Coast Guard (USCG).
“We are assuming the vessel has sunk,” the coast guard captain Mark Fedor told reporters at a press conference held on Monday in Miami.
The El Faro sank last Thursday while enroute to San Jaun, Puerto Rico from Jacksonville when it was hit by powerful Hurricane Joaquin.
The USCG said they were yet unable to identify the one body found so far, discovered wearing a survival suit.
“If the vessel did sink on Thursday, and that crew was able to abandon ship they would have been abandoning ship in a Category 4 hurricane,” Fedor said. “Those are challenging conditions to survive. We’re not going to discount somebody’s will to survive.”
On Sunday, one of two liftboat was found among other debris from the ship, where the ocean it sank is 15,000 feet deep and part of a heavily transited channel for large ships.
The ro-ro cargo ship was carrying 391 containers “so it had a lot of topside height to it where the winds and waves could hit it,” Fedor was quoted saying. There were also 294 trailers and automobiles below deck adding to its weight.
Owner of the vessel TOTE Maritime said it had received a distress call from El Faro on Thursday morning, saying it had lost propulsion, was listing and had taken on water after sailing into the path of Hurricane Joaquin off Crooked Island in the Bahamas.