19:46 GMT +315 October 2019
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    US Cargo Ship With 33 Crewmen Aboard Goes Missing in Hurricane Joaquin

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    A US container ship with 33 persons on board that was caught up in category-4 hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas was taking on water when it lost communication with the mainland early Thursday. It remained missing Friday night.

    A visible-light image of Super typhoon Soudelor is seen in the Western Pacific Ocean in this NASA satellite image taken at 12:10 ET (04:10 GMT) August 4, 2015
    © REUTERS / NASA/Goddard's MODIS Rapid Response Team
    US-flagged ship El Faro met hurricane Joaquin while heading from Jacksonville, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico on Thursday, NBC News reported.

    The crew of the 735-foot cargo vessel last contacted the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center in Portsmouth, Virginia at about 7:30 in the morning on Thursday, reporting that the ship was taking on water. The Inmarsat satellite notification made at approximately the same time indicated that, as of Thursday morning, the El Faro had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list, according to GCaptain.

    28 of the crewmembers are US nationals and five are Polish.

    "There are a number of possible reasons for the loss of communications, among them the increasing severity of Hurricane Joaquin," Tim Nolan, the president of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, the company that owns the ship, said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families."

    On Tuesday, when the El Faro departed Jacksonville, Joaquin was just a tropical storm. But as the storm reached the Bahamas on Thursday, it gained power, turning into category-4 hurricane.

    The National Hurricane Center reported of 140-mph winds and torrential rains battering the Bahamas as of 2 PM Friday. It is expected to keep moving in a northerly direction.

    Weather experts believe the hurricane won’t weaken until Saturday. That means that conditions will continue to impede the work of the coast guard and other searchers looking for the El Faro.

    Two aircrews, including a C-130 Hercules plane operating at low altitude and "hurricane hunter" aircraft, were sent to the believed location of the ship’s disappearance. Coast Guard officials said that some surface vessels are taking part in the rescue operation as well.

    Hurricane Joaquin left thousands without electricity in the Bahamas and communication was lost to two of the chain’s more sparsely populated islands. There have been no reports of deaths or injuries.

    Meteorologists say Joaquin will likely spare the US coastline, but areas from Charleston, South Carolina, to Washington, DC are expected to be deluged and have been warned about possible coastal flooding.


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