Three weeks after 40 seafarers vanished at sea when a typhoon destroyed their ship, not knowing is tearing their loved ones apart, says international maritime charity Sailors’ Society.
The charity, along with other maritime welfare organizations, is due to meet with the families of the seafarers later this week to offer them mental health and practical support.
Sara Baade, CEO of Sailors’ Society, said: “These families are beyond desperate now. In our experience, not knowing whether your loved one is alive or dead is one of the most painful experiences someone can go through and can cause immeasurable trauma.
“They don’t know whether to grieve or hope – it is tearing them apart.”
The Gulf Livestock 1 was carrying 6,000 cows and 43 crew members when it went missing on 2 Sept off the coast of Japan, during the powerful Typhoon Maysak. The Japanese coastguard recovered three crew in the days following the disappearance. Two Filipinos survived but the third man died.
The families are holding onto hope that the rest of the experienced crew escaped the ship on life rafts, which are as yet unaccounted for, and are alive on one of the thousands of tiny islands nearby.
They’re scouring the scene via satellite and have set up crowdfunding pages to conduct private search operations.
Sailors’ Society has supported seafarers and their families through maritime disasters for more than 200 years, including the survivors and loved ones of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987.
“With the ship still missing, the families don’t know whether the life rafts are still onboard or were used to escape,” said Sara.
“We appeal to everyone involved to do everything within their power to find the ship and help them get the answers they need.”