The search and rescue mission for the missing crewmen of the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel that sunk last week was temporarily suspended Saturday as Typhoon 10 (typhoon “Kristine” (international name “Haishen”) in the Philippines) is expected to hit Japan, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo and the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka confirmed that the search and rescue operations were halted.
The Panamanian-registered freighter cargo ship, MV Gulf Livestock 1, was carrying 43 crew, including 39 Filipinos, and 5,800 cows, when it sank off the waters of Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan due to typhoon “Maysak” (typhoon “Julian” in the Philippines). It was reportedly ferrying cattle from Napier, New Zealand to Tangshan, China when it issued a distress call at around 1:20 a.m. (12:20 a.m. in the Philippines) last Wednesday.
Two of the 39 Filipino crewmen were already rescued and “have been in contact with their respective families,” the DFA said.
One of the survivors is Eduardo Sareno, the 45-year-old Filipino chief officer who was rescued wearing a life jacket.
The second survivor is Jay-Nel Rosales, 30, from Cebu. Rosales, a deck crew, was rescued by patrol boat Kaimon and “is now stable and able to walk on his own,” according to a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Osaka.
The DFA said that the Philippine embassy in Tokyo, the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) continue to monitor and coordinate with the Japanese Coast Guard, shipowner, and the manning agency to extend all appropriate support for the Filipino seafarers and their families.
All necessary assistance will be provided to the survivors and the families of the missing Filipino crew members of the ill-fated cargo ship, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Saturday.
“We are in touch with the next of kin of the crew and we are providing them all the help we can give, including the latest information on the search and rescue operation for our kababayans being done by Japanese authorities,” Bello said.
Typhoon Haishen, a much stronger storm, is expected to affect Japan from late Saturday, with winds of up to 290 kilometers per hour (180 miles per hour), making it a “violent” storm – the top level on the country’s classification scale.
“We resumed our search operation this morning by dispatching an airplane, but it returned without any clues,” a local coastguard official said.
“Now we plan to suspend our entire operation” until Haishen passes over the country, the official told AFP.
The storm is scheduled to pass the country on Monday.
Haishen was barreling toward Okinawa in southern Japan Saturday morning and was expected to slightly shift course north towards western Kyushu, prompting the government to warn residents to prepare.
Satoshi Sugimoto, an official at the meteorological agency, said the latest typhoon could generate high waves as powerful as a tsunami.
“It’s going to be the last chance to flee” when the agency formally issues a storm warning, Sugimoto told reporters.
Authorities on Minamidaitojima island instructed some 1,300 residents to evacuate as the storm was expected to hit the remote island, east of Okinawa.
“We urge all of our islanders to be on full alert as winds are getting stronger and expected to be violent,” said Hidehito Iha, a local government official. (With a report from AFP)