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Freighter with 43 crew members, 5,800 cows disappears off Japan

A FREIGHTER carrying 43 persons including 39 Filipino crew members, two Australians, two New Zealanders and 5,800 cows went missing off Southwestern Japan due to bad weather.

Reports from the Japan Coast Guard showed the 11,947-ton Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call around 1:45 a.m. when it was about 185 kilometers west of Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

The freighter went missing on Wednesday night while traveling the stormy East China sea.

A Pinoy crew member was rescued by the Japan Coast Guard.

The Defense Ministry said the coast guard launched a search operation joined by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, with a surveillance aircraft and found a lifeboat and a Filipino crew member with a life vest drifting around the waters Wednesday night.

The crew members of the Panamanian-registered vessel consist of two Australians, 39 Filipinos, including the captain and two New Zealanders.

The coast guard dispatched patrol boats to the area in search of the vessel, which left New Zealand on August 14 and was scheduled to arrive in China next Friday.

Bad weather is hampering the operation. There were strong winds and torrential rain in the area Wednesday due to Typhoon Maysak, according to the weather station in Kagoshima.