Friday, 9 October 2015

Coast guard suspends search for El faro, 32 still missing

At sundown tonight, the search for El Faro will end.

For six days, the Coast Guard has been searching for the Tote Maritime ship that set sail from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, only to sink in Hurricane Joaquin with 33 crew members aboard.

“Any decision to suspend a search is painful,” Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said at a 3 p.m. Wednesday press conference in Jacksonville. “We're searching for our fellow mariners.”

Fedor said the Coast Guard search teams — including support from the Navy, Air Force and commercial tug boats — went to great lengths to search, including flying an 11-hour shift on Sunday and enlisting below-deck engineers and cooks to help in the search.

“I say all this because I want the families to really know how committed we were to finding their loved ones, our fellow professional mariners,” he said. "I hope the families can take some small measure of peace in that.”

But for the families, the search wasn't enough — only one unidentifiable body had been found, leaving 32 crew members still missing.

Fedor addressed the families' concerns that the Coast Guard was ending the search too soon.

For that, though, Fedor said science was simply not on the sailors' sides.

“This is based on the physiology of how long you can survive in the water, which is four to five days,” he said. “Yes, these are professional mariners, but they abandoned the ship in a Category 4 storm. There were 50-foot waves, zero visibility and the constant threat of ingesting water. It's just a dire situation for anybody.... I understand the families are still grieving.”

Just after the Coast Guard conference, at 4:30 p.m., Tote Inc. President and CEO Anthony Chiarello gave a statement, saying that there is pain and sadness in the organization.

“Though we can never understand the pain and grief of the family and loved ones going through this, as a Tote family, we, too, are grieving.”

Friday 9 October 2015

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