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The search for missing cargo ship El Faro, which sank near the Bahamas with 33 people on board, has been called off by the Coast Guard.

The 735ft cargo vessel and its crew have been missing since issuing a distress call on October 1.

Search planes have found debris including life jackets, containers and oil in the water, but only one body has been recovered.

It is not clear why the captain decided to lead the ship into waters near Hurricane Joaquin.

“We were very saddened to learn that no survivors have been found,” said Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).El Faro cargo ship sinking

The search officially ended on October 7 at sunset.

“They did all they could in this search effort… our crews and aircrafts flew repeatedly into that storm,” Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said on the same day.

An empty, heavily damaged life boat was also found.

The coast guard said it searched 70,000 sq nautical miles attempting to find the crew of 28 Americans and five Poles.

The El Faro ship, which was travelling from Florida to Puerto Rico, was taking on water before it sank according to the distress call.

Its owners, Tote Maritime, say the ship lost power after its engines broke down.

Tote Maritime, said two vessels it dispatched to the scene had found a container “which appears to be from the El Faro”.

In a statement it said the crew were “equipped to handle situations such as changing weather.”

Hurricane Joaquin brought heavy rains to the Bahamas, damaging a number of houses.


A cargo ship with 33 crew that vanished in Bahamas’ waters during Hurricane Joaquin, the US Coast Guard says.

The 735ft El Faro, with 28 Americans and five Poles on board, was last heard from on October 1 and was reported to be taking on water.

The ship – which was travelling from Florida to Puerto Rico – was also believed to be listing at 15 degrees.

Joaquin brought heavy rains to the Bahamas, damaging a number of houses.

There have been no reports of casualties so far.El Faro cargo ship Hurricane Joaquin

The now-weaker Category Four storm – with sustained winds of up to 130mph – is moving away from the island nation in the Atlantic.

US officials said they believed any threat to the East Coast was fading.

“We’re going to go and try and save lives,” Coast Guard Cpt. Mark Fedor said on October 3, Associated Press reported.

“We’re going to push it to the operational limits as far as we can.”

Cpt. Mark Fedor added that waves of up to nine meters and heavy winds could have destroyed El Faro’s communications equipment.

The Coast Guard said it had already covered more than 850 sq miles in the search for the vessel.

El Faro’s owner, Florida-based TOTE Services, said it was working together with the Coast Guard to try to re-establish contact with the ship.

Rescue teams have found five more bodies inside the Italian Costa Concordia stricken cruise ship, raising the confirmed death toll to 11.

According to officials, four men and a woman were found on the ship, which capsized after it hit rocks in Ialy on Friday.

Judges are questioning the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, who has been blamed for steering the vessel on to the rocks.

Captain Francesco Schettino has been detained on suspicion of manslaughter, but denies any wrongdoing.

He has not yet been formally charged, but prosecutors on Tuesday asked judges to continue his detention.

Rescue teams have found five more bodies inside the Italian Costa Concordia stricken cruise ship, raising the confirmed death toll to 11

Rescue teams have found five more bodies inside the Italian Costa Concordia stricken cruise ship, raising the confirmed death toll to 11

A recording of a conversation allegedly between the captain and a port official – recorded shortly after the crash – has emerged which suggests Captain Francesco Schettino left the ship before all passengers had escaped.

In the recording, on the Corriere della Sera’s website, Captain Francesco Schettino appears to refuse to go back on to the ship to co-ordinate the rescue effort.

A man who identifies himself as Livorno Port Authority chief Gregorio de Falco can be heard repeatedly telling the captain to get back on board the ship to help the stranded passengers.

“Schettino, maybe you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you have trouble for sure. Go aboard,” says Gregorio de Falco.

Captain Francesco Schettino is heard replying first that there are rescuers already on board, and then that it is dark and difficult to see.

Shortly after daybreak on Tuesday rescue crews blasted several holes in the ship, now lying on its side metres from Giglio island, in order to gain access to areas they had not yet been able to search.

Hours later, the coast guard announced that more bodies had been found.

It is not clear whether the bodies are crew members or passengers, but the coast guard said they were aged between 50 and 60 and were wearing life vests.

The bodies were found near one of the assembly points where people were told to gather in an emergency.

Before the bodies were discovered, Italian officials said there were 29 people still missing from the vessel.

Teams of specialist divers have been helping with the rescue mission, but they have been hampered by bad weather.

The ship, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, had its hull ripped open when it hit rocks late on Friday, just hours after leaving the port of Civitavecchia for a week-long Mediterranean cruise.

Some people were forced to swim for shore as the angle of the ship made launching lifeboats impossible.

Infrared footage taken from a helicopter, also released on Tuesday, shows lines of people climbing ropes down the exposed hull of the vessel to reach rescue boats on the water.

Francesco Schettino, 52, has emerged as the central figure in the investigation.

The Costa Concordia’s owners, Costa Cruises, have said Captain Francesco Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards Giglio Island.

Prosecutors have given more detail, saying the captain wanted to make a close pass of Giglio in order to “salute” a crew member’s family who lived there.

On Monday, the shipping newspaper Lloyd’s List said it had been able to trace the course of the Costa Concordia though information from satellites.

Lloyd’s List issued a graphic comparing Friday’s sailing with an earlier sailing by the vessel, suggesting that Friday’s route had deviated far from its usual course.