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US cargo ship El Faro sank, Coast Guard says

The cargo ship El Faro is believed to have sunk after it was caught in the path of Hurricane Joaquin with 33 people on board, US Coast Guard officials say. The US authorities are searching for survivors.

A rescue helicopter found a body which is believed to be one of the crew members, Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said Monday. The body was found in a survival suit, but it was "unidentifiable," he added.

"We are still looking for survivors or any signs of life," the Coast Guard member said at a news conference near Miami. "We're not looking for the vessel any longer."

The officials also recovered an empty lifeboat, one of two from the ship. Each of the boats has a capacity for 43 people.

Sailing through the storm

The US cargo ship carried 28 Americans and five Polish citizens when it encountered high winds off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin last week. The crew of the 735-foot (224-meter) vessel reported that the ship had lost propulsion and was taking in water early Thursday. The sailors, however, also reported that the situation was "manageable."

The ship went missing after sending a distress signal Thursday morning. At the time, it was battered by winds of close to 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour, with waves reaching up to 30 feet (9 meters).

Life ring found

The US authorities launched a large-scale search for the ship and its crew, involving several Coast Guard ships, two C-130 planes, helicopters and a US Navy plane.

On Saturday, the rescuers found a life ring from El Faro some 193 kilometers northeast of Crooked Island, the ship's last known location.

Other debris believed to be from El Faro, including styrofoam and cargo doors, was discovered on Sunday.

The cargo ship left Florida on the 29 of September and was heading to Puerto Rico on a routine supply run.

dj/se (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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