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New hope for the missing Gulf Livestock I crew after items were discovered on Japanese islands

New hope for the missing Gulf Livestock I crew after items were discovered on Japanese islands
Patrick Gee, October 13, 2020

A life ring, blue boot and potential animal medicine believed to be from Gulf Livestock I washed up on Japan's Gajajima island. Picture: SUPPLIED
DISCOVERIES on uninhabited islands near Japan have given fresh hope for the 40 missing crewmen from export ship Gulf Livestock I, which sank in heavy seas last month.

But funding for the community driven rescue mission is fast drying up and family and friends of the missing men are pleading for donations to complete stages three and four of the effort.

There were 43 crew members and almost 6000 cattle on-board the live export ship when it sank during typhoon Maysak off the coast of Japan on September 2.

Three Filipino men were pulled from the water by the Japanese Coast Guard in the days following the ship’s distress beacon, but one died.

The Coast Guard scaled back the search and rescue response to its “usual patrol arrangements” on September 9.

New South Wales stockman Will Mainprize and Queensland vet Lukas Orda are among the 36 Filipinos, two New Zealanders and two Australians still lost at sea.

The two surviving Filipino men have testified that they witnessed the deployment of four life rafts before the ship sank and confirmed every crew member had put on a PFD.

The canopy of a life raft, buoys, life rings, a blue boot, dead cows and other debris have been filmed and photographed washed up on islands in the Tokara group in the East China Sea by Tasmanian cinematographer, Simon Wearne.

The past president of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Cinematographer’s Society, now living in Japan, spotted the debris on two of seven community funded reconnaissance flights.

He has been heavily involved in co-ordinating the community rescue effort and communications in Japan.

The helicopters and fixed wing flights have surveilled areas of highest probability for survival based on expertise, local knowledge and including current and drift modelling.

Close friend and former housemate and colleague of Mr Mainprize, Harry Morrison, from Nile in Tasmania’s North, said the discoveries meant there was still hope.

Mr Morrison has helped lead the effort and started the GoFundMe crowdsourcing page, Save the Forty of Gulf Livestock 1, which has raised almost $140,000.

“If a [crew member] drowns with a life jacket on they won’t sink, they will float,” he said.

“So until they find those life jackets or those four life rafts, we can’t stop searching.”

Mr Morrison said $15,000 was needed to complete phase three of the operation – the aerial search of the four islands closest to Amami island, nearest to where the ship went down.

Phase four would see the aerial search shift north to ocean just south of Tokyo costing a further $25,000.

The rescue mission led by the family and friends of Mr Mainprize has spent $144,700 on flights around the islands.

It also received two private donations of $25,000 and the New Zealand based effort has received about $100,000 worth of satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies.

Mr Morrison said they would soon receive a $75,000 bill for flights.
“We’ve exhausted all of our immediate contacts and groups,” he said.

“It’s so bizarre that no one, particularly Australia, New Zealand or the Philippines [governments] are doing anything to do with the search.

“There are so many people out there that are not accounted for and there’s no answer for families or loved ones.”