Australians missing after livestock ship hit by Typhoon Maysak near Japan

Praveen Menon and Junko FujitaReuters
VideoA powerful typhoon brought strong winds and heavy rain to southern Japan

Japan’s coastguard has rescued one person in the search for a livestock ship with dozens of crew aboard, including two Australians, missing and feared capsized in the East China Sea during Typhoon Maysak.

Carrying almost 6000 cattle, the Panamanian-flagged Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan.

Strong winds and rains from Typhoon Maysak are hampering rescue efforts as the storm moves on to drench the Korean peninsula.

A spokeswoman for the coastguard says one person was rescued on Wednesday night (Tokyo time).

A Filipino crewmember is rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard.
Camera IconA Filipino crewmember is rescued by the Japanese Coast Guard. Credit: The 10th Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters via AP

The Filipino crewman said the ship’s engine failed before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a second official says.

Pictures provided by the coastguard show him in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.

The carrier departed Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with 5867 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 said.

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

Waves hit a shore in Nagasaki as an offshore typhoon passed through southern Japan.
Camera IconWaves hit a shore in Nagasaki as an offshore typhoon passed through southern Japan. Credit: AP

The 139 metre 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$54 million ($A50 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.

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