Joaquin’s slow-moving path battered parts of the Bahamas, cutting communication to several islands. There were no reports of deaths or injuries.
The Cargo ship El Faro, with 28 Americans and five Polish nationals on board, was missing from Thursday near the eye of Hurricane Joaquin. It was en route to San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Jacksonville, Florida. The ship had lost power around 7 a.m. ET on Thursday near Crooked Island in the most battered eastern Bahamas. A search plane flew within 50 nautical miles of the eye of Hurricane Joaquin on Saturday.
Immediately sea and air searches were made. Two Air Force C-130 Hurricane Hunter aircrews tried in vain to locate and establish communications with the El Faro.
U.S. Coast Guard A C-130 crews went in search and found a 225-square-mile debris field on Sunday. The debris included thousands of pieces of Styrofoam, pieces of wood, a cargo door, fenders that belonged to a ship and multiple 55-gallon drums. Earlier, “multiple items” including containers, loose deck materials and oil sheen were seen floating in the water just before noon.
Saturday night the Coast Guard found an orange life preserver belonging to the 735-foot-long ship. Tim Nolan, the El Faro’s owner, said Sunday afternoon that a container that appears to be from the missing ship was spotted by a ship and a contracted tugboat. “At this time there has been no sighting of the El Faro or any life boats,” Nolan said. The Coast Guard combed a vast 850 square nautical mile area before calling off the search Friday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and their families,” TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico said in a statement Saturday. The ship was carrying 294 trailers and automobiles in its hold, in addition to the 391 shipping containers on deck, as it battled 20 to 30-foot seas.