Coast Guard Finds Body, Says Missing Ship Is Presumed Lost

Coast Guard says El Faro likely sank at its last known position
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2015 10:31 AM CDT
Phil Greene, President of TOTE Services & CEO, left, and Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, right, listen as Anthony Chiarello, President & CEO, TOTE, Inc. speaks about about the missing...   (Bruce Lipsky/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
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(Newser) – The Coast Guard says a body has been found in the search for a cargo ship that disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin carrying 33 crew members. In addition to life rings and other debris from the 790-foot El Faro, Capt. Mark Fedor says "less than a handful" of survival suits, including one containing "unidentifiable" human remains, have been found, per the AP. While he did not confirm that the suits—which keep a person floating and upright in water—came from El Faro, Fedor did say there were 46 on the ship. He added one of El Faro's two lifeboats was found "heavily damaged" but contained "no signs of life." After a search of 70,000 square nautical miles, "We are assuming that the vessel has sank … at its last known position," Fedor added. While "we are still looking for survivors," he said the 28 Americans and five Poles would have faced perilous conditions, including 50-foot waves, if they did abandon the ship.

The mother of the ship's second mate says her last contact with her daughter came via an email Thursday: "There is a hurricane out here and we are heading straight into it," Danielle Randolph wrote, per NBC News. "Winds are super bad and seas are not great. Love to everyone." Hours after her message, El Faro sent a distress signal, noting it was taking on water and tilting at 15 degrees. The ship's cargo load—391 containers on deck and 293 vehicles below—may have made the listing more severe, reports USA Today. "She always said to me, 'If anything happens to me, Mom, when I'm out at sea, it's OK. I died doing what I want to do,'" Randolph’s mother says. But other relatives are questioning why the ship headed into the heart of the storm. "Normally my husband tells me that they have a different route that they take to go around the storm," the wife of missing crew member says. "This is totally unacceptable." (Read more cargo ships stories.)

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