TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A third crewman from a ship that capsized this week off Japan with more than 40 crew and a cargo of cattle on board was found alive on Friday after he was spotted by a search plane, Japan’s coastguard said.
The man, 30-year-old Filipino Jay-nel Rosals, was found on a liferaft waving for help 2 km (1.2 miles) off Kodakarajima, a small island in Japan’s southern Kagoshima prefecture, the coastguard said.
He was conscious and was able to walk when the coastguard rescued him. Rescuers also found an overturned orange lifeboat floating at sea some 4 km (2.5 miles) off Kodakarajima, but no one was found on that boat.
Rosals was only the third crew member to be found so far from the Gulf Livestock 1, which capsized in the East China Sea on Wednesday and is believed to have sunk.
The ship, with a crew of 43 crew and a cargo of 6,000 cattle, had sent a distress call amid strong winds and heavy seas whipped up by Typhoon Maysak.
Earlier on Friday it emerged the vessel had a history of mechanical issues.
Rosals’ rescue came hours after another crewman died after being pulled unconscious from the water by the coastguard.
The search is still on for the remaining 40 crew members.
Rescuers have also found a life jacket and cattle carcasses in the area where the ship is believed to have sunk.
Gulf Livestock 1, owned by UAE-based Gulf Navigation, lost engine power before it was hit by a massive wave, according to Chief Officer Sareno Edvarodo, who was rescued on Wednesday. Edvarodo, a 45-year-old Filipino, remains in hospital.
The crew was made up of 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and two from Australia, the coastguard said.
The ship is technically managed and crewed by Germany’s Marconsult Schiffarht GMBH, while the commercial manager is Jordan-based Hijazi & Ghosheh Co.
“We are monitoring the situation closely,” a spokesman for Gulf Navigation said in an emailed statement. “Our hearts go out to those onboard and their families at this time.”
The company is working with those involved in rescue efforts and regrets the loss of livestock, he added.
Several maritime reports logged over the past two years showed the ship may have had some mechanical defects and revealed operational concerns.
A December inspection report from Indonesian authorities on the website of Equasis, which collates ship safety information from both public and private sources, logged issues with the ship’s propulsion and auxiliary machinery.
The issues included “deficiencies” with the propulsion main engine, gauges and thermometers.
A 2019 report by the Australian government on the cattle ship’s transit in June from Australia to Indonesia noted the vessel’s departure was delayed for a week because of “stability and navigation issues identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority”.
Gulf Navigation, Marconsult Schiffarht and Hijazi & Ghosheh Co. did not immediately respond to questions about the reports.
The Japanese coastguard said on Friday it had not set a deadline to end the search for survivors from the ship, which left Napier port in New Zealand on Aug. 14 and had been due to arrive 17 days later at the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China.
Four vessels, an airplane and several divers were scouring the waters on Friday when they discovered the second crew member, who has not been publicly identified.
The coastguard said the man died a short time after they pulled him from the sea about 120 km (75 miles) north-northwest of Amami Oshima island and transferred him to hospital.
Melbourne-based Australasian Global Exports confirmed it employed four of the people onboard, with the remaining crew engaged by Gulf Navigation.
“We are in full contact with the families of our four colleagues and are offering them all the support we can,” it said in a statement.
GRAPHIC: Path of the Gulf Livestock 1 livestock carrier – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/xklpynjkwvg/GulfLivestock1Path.png
(Reporting by Akiko Okamoto and Tetsushi Kajimoto in Tokyo and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore; Writing by Jane Wardell and David Dolan; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Himani Sarkar and Frances Kerry)