Coast Guard believes El Faro cargo ship sank

Human remains found in survival suit; search for remaining crew members continues


OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard believes a missing cargo ship that disappeared in the path of Hurricane Joaquin has sunk, but the search for its crew continues.

El Faro, a 735-foot cargo ship, was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, when the Coast Guard received notice that it had become disabled. The Coast Guard hasn't made contact with anyone on the ship since Thursday morning.

"We are not looking for the vessel any longer," Capt. Mark Fedor said Monday. "However, today we are still out there searching."

Fedor said 28 of the 33 crew members are U.S. citizens, and five others are Polish nationals.

At least one person is dead, as Fedor said the Coast Guard found a survival suit with human remains inside. The body inside the suit was unidentifiable, he said.

"We are still looking for survivors," Fedor said.

Fedor said he believes any possible survivors would have drifted to the north. The area where the ship is believed to have sunk was 15,000 feet deep.

Already, the Coast Guard has searched more than 70,000 square miles. The Coast Guard found a 225-square-mile debris field, which consisted of Styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items, but there was no sign of the ship, which was carrying 391 containers.

A heavily damaged life boat with markings consistent with those on board the cargo ship was also found Monday.

Fedor said if the crew abandoned ship Thursday, they would have encountered Category 4-force conditions.

"Those are challenging conditions to survive in," Fedor said.

Still, the Coast Guard will continue to aggressively search for survivors, Fedor said.

"We're not going to discount somebody's will to survive," he said.

The Coast Guard said all three cutters will continue searching for possible survivors through the night.

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