New Zealand is in talks to assess the viability of conducting a search for the black box of the Gulf Livestock 1, which capsized off the coast of Japan 10 days ago with 43 crew onboard.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters said the government was speaking with its overseas partners to conduct a search for the black box in the hope of giving answers to the families of those aboard the stricken ship.
“We know how much it would mean to the families of those on the ship to understand more about what happened to cause this tragic loss of life,” Mr Peters said.
“That is why officials have been instructed to investigate the viability of searching for the ship’s black box – in concert with interested international partners, such as Panama, Japan, Australia, the Philippines and the ship’s owners.
The ship was carrying 5,867 live cattle from New Zealand to China when it was struck by Typhoon Maysak winds and heavy seas about 100 nautical miles west of Amami Ōshima Island in southwest Japan.
A survivor has reported that the ship was hit by a large wave, causing it to capsize.
The ship had 43 crew members on board, including two New Zealanders, two Australians, and 39 Filipinos, when it issued a distress call early on Wednesday morning.
Three crew have so far been found – two were alive but one man was unconscious and later died.
“We understand that such a search could be difficult and expensive, given the depth at which the ship is believed to have sunk. But we believe it is only responsible to explore what might be possible,” said Mr Peters.
“Personal engagement with my counterparts in Panama, Japan, Australia and the Philippines will be made to underline the seriousness with which the New Zealand Government is approaching this matter.”
He said New Zealand remained in close contact with Japan Coast Guard, via the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo.
Japanese authorities last week suspended a search for 40 missing sailors in the East China Sea due to threatening typhoon conditions.