China conducts search operations but finds no trace of missing cargo vessel crew
A coast guard vessel rescues a Filipino crewman off Amami Oshima island in this handout photo taken on Sept. 2 and provided by the 10th Regional Coast Guard headquarters yesterday. Japan’s coast guard said one person was found during a search for a cargo ship with 43 people on board after receiving a distress call from the East China Sea during a typhoon.
China conducts search operations but finds no trace of missing cargo vessel crew
Bella Perez-Rubio ( - September 25, 2020 - 10:39am

MANILA, Philippines — China on Thursday said its coast guard was unable to locate any of the missing seafarers who were aboard a cargo vessel which sank off the coast of southwest Japan three weeks ago.  

"The China Coast Guard has already conducted operations in relevant waters to search [for] the 36 missing members of Panamanian Vessel M/V Gulf Livestock on [the] days of 19 and 20 September, but regretfully found no trace of missing crew members," a statement from the Chinese Embassy read. 

The embassy said the search was conducted at the request of the Department of Labor and Employment. 

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the missing crew members. We will continue to provide necessary assistance as requested by the Philippine side and hope all of them can be found at the earliest. 

Cargo vessel crew missing for three weeks

Gulf Livestock 1, a Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel, made a distress call on September 2 from Amami Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture. The following day, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the vessel was carrying 43 crew members, 39 of whom were Filipino.

A report from Agence France-Presse identified the remaining four crew members as two New Zealanders, an Australian and a Singaporean.

So far, two survivors and one fatality, all three of whom are Filipinos, have been confirmed by the DFA through the Japanese Coast Guard.

The DFA on September 10 reported that the Japanese Coast Guard "decided to transition from full-time search operations for the crew of the missing vessel Gulf Livestock-1 to its usual patrol arrangements as they have found no trace of the ship since 05 September 2020."

Later the same day, the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines issued a statement saying that search and rescue operations were ongoing.

Request to intensify the search

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, through a letter to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and a statement released to to the public, last week urged the DFA to convince Japan to allow other countries to join the search. 

"I firmly believe that, as long as the families have not given up on their loved ones, our government should sustain the fight by persuading the Japanese government to not only continue and expand SAR operations but also, if possible, to allow other countries such as the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand to join the search as well," the document read.

Locsin rejected this request. 

"The Japanese government and ambassador and I are on this and Japan did not cease its search that Saturday but had in fact continued it against protocol,” he said on Twitter.

"I refuse to ask other Asian powers to join in the search because that is an attack on the sovereignty of Japan,” Locsin added.

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