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A coast guard spokeswoman said one person was rescued Wednesday evening (Tokyo time) while searching for the vessel.
The rescued Filipino crew member said the ship’s engine failed before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a second coast guard spokeswoman said.
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Photos provided by the coast guard showed a crew member in a life jacket being carried from rough seas into darkness.
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The Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier, New Zealand on August 14 with 5,867 cattle and 43 crew on board, bound for the port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The trip is expected to take around 17 days, the New Zealand Foreign Office told Reuters.
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The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand and two from Australia, the coast guard said.
The 139-meter (450-foot) Panamanian-flagged vessel was built in 2002 and the registered owner is Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA, based in Amman, according to data from Refinitiv Eikon. The director of the vessel is Hijazi & Ghosheh Co.
New Zealand animal rights organization SAFE said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.
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“These cows should never have been at sea,” said Marianne Macdonald, campaign manager.
“This is a real crisis, and our hearts go out to the families of the 43 crew members who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue. ”
Last year, the New Zealand government launched a review of the country’s live animal export trade, valued at around NZ $ 54 million ($ 37 million) in 2019, after that thousands of animals exported from New Zealand and Australia have died in transit.
A conditional ban on the export of live cattle was one of many options being considered, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon in Wellington and Junko Fujita in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Gavin Maguire and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore; Written by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Richard Pullin)