A ship carrying 43 crew, including two Australians and two New Zealanders, and nearly 6000 cattle has capsized after losing an engine in stormy weather in the East China Sea, says the only crew member rescued so far.
The Gulf Livestock 1 sent a distress call from the west of Amami Oshima island in southwestern Japan on Wednesday as Typhoon Maysak headed through the region towards the Korean peninsula, bringing strong winds, heavy seas and drenching rains.
Japan's coastguard said it had rescued one crew member, Sareno Edvarodo, a 45-year-old chief officer from the Philippines, on Wednesday night while searching for the ship that was carrying cattle from New Zealand to China.
According to Edvarodo, the ship lost an engine before it was hit by a wave and capsized, a coastguard spokeswoman said.
When the ship capsized, crew were instructed to put on lifejackets.
Edvarodo told the coastguard he jumped into the water and did not see any other crew members before he was rescued.
Pictures provided by the coastguard showed a person in a lifejacket being hauled from choppy seas in darkness.
Three vessels, five planes and two divers had been deployed to continue the search, the coastguard said.
The crew included 39 people from the Philippines, two from New Zealand, and two from Australia, it added.
The Philippines government said it was coordinating with the Japanese coastguard as it searched for the missing crew members ahead of another typhoon expected to hit the area.
Typhoon Haishen was in the northwest Pacific, tracking through the East China Sea towards South Korea.
The Gulf Livestock 1 departed Napier in New Zealand on August 14 with 5867 cattle bound for the Port of Jingtang in Tangshan, China. The journey was expected to take about 17 days, New Zealand's foreign ministry told Reuters.
The 139-metre, Panamanian-flagged vessel was built in 2002 and the registered owner is Amman-based Rahmeh Compania Naviera SA, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
New Zealand animal rights organisation SAFE said the tragedy demonstrated the risks of the live animal export trade.
"These cows should never have been at sea," said campaigns manager Marianne Macdonald.
"This is a real crisis, and our thoughts are with the families of the 43 crew who are missing with the ship. But questions remain, including why this trade is allowed to continue."
Last year, New Zealand's government launched a review of the country's live export trade after thousands of animals being exported from New Zealand and Australia died in transit.
A conditional ban on the live export of cattle was one of several options being considered, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said.