The El Faro cargo ship was lost at sea in the Bermuda Triangle as it encountered Hurricane Joaquin near the Crooked Island in the Bahamas. The 700-foot car carrying ship had 33 crew members aboard when it sent a distress signal noting it was succumbing to the violent storm. The U.S. Coast Guard says they are no longer searching for the ship as it is believed to be at the bottom of the sea. However, crews continue to work diligently in a bid to rescue the 33 crew members that were aboard the U.S.-flagged vessel. Sadly, one body from the El Faro sea disaster has been found with the U.S. Coast Guard noting that the deceased individual was found inside of their survival suits.
Reuters reports that the U.S. Coast Guard has recovered one body from the debris field of the El Faro disaster. The 224-square nautical mile debris field contained pieces of cargo, styrofoam, life preservers, life vests, and one battered life boat designed to hold 43 people. The life boat was determined to be empty, but a second life boat, also designed to carry 43 people, has yet to be found.
“A lifeboat found among other debris from the ship was one of two that it had been carrying, each with a capacity for 43 people.”
The body has yet to be identified by the U.S. Coast Guard; however, it was noted that the deceased was found inside of their survival suit. A survival suit is designed to keep the occupant afloat while protecting the person from hypothermia. Sadly, it seems the survival suit wasn’t enough for the El Faro victim.
The Guardian notes that though survival suits are designed to keep occupants warm and unable to sink; coastguard captain Mark Fedor says that the conditions that the seafarers would be jumping into were extremely violent. The winds would have reached 140 mph with waves topping 50-feet in height. Therefore, even a survival suit may not be able to save an individual in those types of conditions, as is evident by the finding of a body inside of one of the specially designed suits.
“These are trained mariners. They know how to abandon ship. But those are challenging conditions to survive.”
The U.S. Coast Guard says they will continue searching for the missing crew members until this evening when they will call off search efforts. With one body found inside the survival suit, and the discovery of the battered life boat, many are losing hope that the crew members will be recovered.
With the situation looking grim, family members of the El Faro crew are speaking out about their loved ones with some questioning why the experienced El Faro captain would have placed the ship in the path of Hurricane Joaquin given the severity of the storm.
New York City-based lawyer Andrew Buchsbaum, who handles maritime personal injury cases, says that the owner of the El Faro ship will likely be held responsible for the fate of the crew.
“It’s incomprehensible with the sophisticated weather routing technology that’s available that an over 700-foot merchant vessel can be caught in the middle of a previously forecasted hurricane.”
Meanwhile, TOTE Maritime, the company that owns the El Faro ship, says it is too premature to disclose exactly what may have gone wrong on the ill-fated ship noting that they “look forward to what the investigation reveals.”
Do you think TOTE Maritime should be held liable for the deaths of the El Faro crew?
[Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images]