Latin America & Caribbean

Missing ship: El Faro confirmed to have sunk off Bahamas

El Faro cargo ship. File photo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The 224-metre vessel was last heard from on Thursday

The lost cargo ship El Faro sank in Bahamian waters after sailing into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, according to the US Coast Guard.

The 224m (735ft) vessel and its crew of 33 have been missing since issuing a distress call on Thursday.

The coast guard says an "unidentifiable body" has been found but a search remains underway.

On Sunday, search planes found debris including life jackets, containers and oil in the water.

It was this find that led rescuers to the conclusion that the ship had sunk.

Along with the body, an empty, heavily damaged life boat has also been found.

"We are still looking for survivors or any signs of life," US Coast Guard Capt Mark Fedor said, but adding the crew faced "challenging conditions to survive".

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

The 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.

Image copyright REUTERS/NOAA
Image caption Hurricane Joaquin from space

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

The company has also defended its decision to allow the ship to sail so close to a hurricane.

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

Joaquin brought heavy rains to the Bahamas, damaging a number of houses. The weakened storm has since hit Bermuda.

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