Ship carrying livestock and crew missing off Japan coast: NHK

(Adds comment from NZ foreign ministry)

By Praveen Menon

WELLINGTON, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Japanese coastguards are looking for a cargo ship carrying livestock and dozens of crew members that went missing after issuing a distress signal due to typhoon Maysak.

The vessel called Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier in New Zealand on Aug 14 with 5,867 cattle on board, New Zealand’s foreign ministry told Reuters.

It was en route to the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China, with an estimated journey of approximately 17 days, it said.

The ship sent a distress call from the East China Sea, to the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported. Strong winds and rains from typhoon Maysak lashing the region were hampering rescue efforts.

NHK said the ship was carrying 43 crew members, which included 39 from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and one each from Australia and Singapore.

New Zealand’ foreign ministry said it was providing consular assistance to the families of two New Zealanders aboard.

NHK later reported the coastguard had spotted a person adrift wearing a life jacket, as well as an object that looked like a lifeboat while searching for the ship. (Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin and Lincoln Feast.)

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