Good Samaritan ships rescued 16 sailors after a cargo ship caught fire New Year's Eve—but four others are still in the water, another is missing, and the burning car carrier is still adrift. The Coast Guard says the Sincerity Ace, which was en route from Japan to Hawaii, was 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu when it caught fire Monday, forcing the 21-person Filipino crew to abandon ship, the AP reports. The ship was in a remote part of the Pacific out of the range of rescue helicopters, but merchant vessels, including other car carriers, responded to distress calls. The US Navy is assisting with search efforts, but authorities say it would take days for a rescue ship from Honolulu to reach the area.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir tells the New York Daily News that four mariners have been spotted "unresponsive" in the water. She says the sailors in the water are being tossed about by 17-foot waves and have not grabbed safety equipment thrown to them. She says nearby boats have very high decks and crew members can't reach the water safely. Their medical condition is unknown, she says, but hypothermia is a major concern. "They’re not able to reach that safety equipment," she says of the sailors. “And at this time we don’t have another way to reach them." She says vessels and a US military aircraft are searching for the remaining crew member over an area of 6,711 square miles. (Read more cargo ships stories.)