Japan rescues 1 in search for missing New Zealand cargo ship carrying 6,000 cattle

Japan’s coastguard rescued one person in the search for a cargo ship carrying nearly 6,000 cattle and dozens of crew members that was feared capsized in the East China Sea as Typhoon Maysak lashed the region.

The Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan. Strong winds and rains from Typhoon Maysak were hampering rescue efforts as the storm moved on to drench the Korean peninsula.

A spokeswoman for the coastguard said one person was rescued on Wednesday night (Tokyo time) during the search for the ship.

The rescued Filipino crew member said the ship’s engine failed before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a second coastguard spokeswoman said.

Pictures provided by the coastguard showed a crew member in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.

The Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier in New Zealand on Aug. 14 with 5,867 cattle and 43 crew members on board, bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand’s foreign ministry told Reuters.

The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and two from Australia, the coastguard said.

The 139 metre (450 ft), Panamanian-flagged vessel was built in 2002 and the registered owner is Amman-based Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA, according to Refinitiv Eikon data. The ship manager is Hijazi & Ghosheh Co.

New Zealand animal rights organisation, SAFE, said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.

“These cows should never have been at sea,” said Campaigns Manager Marianne Macdonald.

“This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue.”

Last year, New Zealand’s government launched a review of country’s live animal export trade, worth around NZ$54 million ($37 million) in 2019, after thousands of animals being exported from New Zealand and Australia died in transit.

A conditional ban of the live export of cattle was one of several options being considered, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon in Wellington and Junko Fujita in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Gavin Maguire and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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