An ongoing search is currently underway as the U.S. Coast Guard searches for a lost cargo ship with 28 U.S. citizens and five Poland citizens on board.
The 735-foot ship, El Faro, which was headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida, ran into Hurricane Joaquin as the storm is currently slamming into the Bahama islands.
Fox 30 reported that the U.S. Coast Guard said they were last in contact with the ship at 7 a.m. on Thursday morning and the ship’s crew informed the coast guard they had lost power and the ship had water in it but the flooding was under control. The cargo ship was near Crooked Island in the eastern Bahamas when they got this report. There hasn’t been any communication with the cargo ship since then.
The cargo ship is carrying 294 trailers and vehicles, plus 391 shipping containers on the top deck. Captain Mark Fedor, chief of response for the 7th Coast Guard District in Miami, said that the ship is made to carry this much weight but it can get dangerous for the ship as it battles 20- to 30-foot high waves from Hurricane Joaquin.
Two Air Force C-13- Hurricane Hunter aircrews tried unsuccessfully to find and reestablish radio communications with the cargo ship all day Thursday, according to Captain Fedor. The coast guard will continue to search by air and sea all day Friday.
Fedor said he had his crews flying over and through the hurricane at an altitude of 2,000 feet, which is way lower than the 10,000 height that they usually fly at. They are putting their own lives at risk and flying as low as possible to be able to see through the heavy rains, high waves, and sea sprays that the hurricane is causing.
“We’re going to do the best we can during daylight hours,” Fedor said of the search. “This is what we do… if there is potential of a life to save.”
Meteorologists doubt that the hurricane will come ashore, but there are warnings of flash floods from Charleston, South Carolina, to Washington, D.C., and Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia are preparing themselves just in case.
Hurricane Joaquin knocked out power on several of the Bahama islands and Leslie Miller, executive chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, said the electric company “is in no position to do much to restore electricity.” He also noted that all of the local airports are flooded.
All of the Bahama schools, businesses, and government offices are closed.
Hurricane Joaquin has wind gusts of 130 mph, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami and as of 11 a.m. on Friday, the storm was five miles from Rum Cay and moving north at three mph.
The storm is expected to weaken on Saturday, but the East Coast will still experience dangerous surf and rip currents throughout the weekend.
According to CTV news, the hurricane Center said parts of the Bahamas could see sea levels raising as much as four meters above normal, with 31 to 46 centimeters of rain falling in the central Bahamas.