A ship carrying 43 crew and nearly 6,000 cattle from New Zealand to China capsized after losing an engine in stormy weather in the East China Sea, the only crew member rescued so far told Japan's coastguard on Thursday.
The Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as the region experienced strong winds, heavy seas and drenching rains from Typhoon Maysak as it headed towards the Korean peninsula.
Japan's coastguard said it rescued one crew member, Sareno Edvarodo, a 45-year-old chief officer from the Philippines, on on Wednesday night (Tokyo time) while searching for the ship.
According to Edvarodo, the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
When the ship capsized, crew were instructed to put on lifejacket. Edvarodo said he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.
Pictures provided by the coastguard showed a person 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.
Graphic - Path of the Gulf Livestock 1 livestock carrier: here
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 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 on the live export of cattle was one of several options being considered, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said.