UPDATE 9 p.m. EDT: The U.S. Coast Guard tweeted it had located a life ring from a cargo ship missing in Hurricane Joaquin.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) October 3, 2015
The U.S. Coast Guard continued its search for a missing cargo ship carrying 33 crew members on Saturday off the coast of the Bahamas. Though the ship's crew intended to sail ahead of Hurricane Joaquin, the storm’s abrupt arrival seems to have put the ship and its crew directly in its path, causing the vessel to lose power and water to rush in below decks.
Officials lost contact with the ship on Thursday morning after the ship’s captain sent a distress signal around 7:30 a.m. off the coast of Crooked Island alerting authorities that the boat was suffering a power outage and flooding. At that time, the ship was listing, or leaning slightly to one side, at 15 degrees. However, the crew assured officials that all flooding was contained.
At last contact, the ship was on course to meet the eye of the storm, where winds may have reached up to 140 miles per hour and waves could be up to 30 feet high, USA Today reports. Its last known location was also within the mysterious area known as the Bermuda Triangle.
"The fact that there have been no communications is not good news," Chris Lloyd, operations manager of the Bahamas Air Sea and Rescue Association, told the Associated Press.
The 790-foot container ship named El Faro departed from Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday. It carried nearly 300 cars and trucks and was destined for San Juan, Puerto Rico. Five of the crew members are from Poland while the remaining 28 are Americans.
El Faro is owned by Jacksonville-based shipping TOTE Services. The president and CEO of the company told NBC News on Friday that he met with family members of the crew as they awaited news from the search.
On Friday, the Coast Guard sent airplanes and helicopters to look for signs of the ship over 850 square miles of open ocean, but the search was hindered by storm surges and low visibility. As the storm shifts away from the islands and toward the northeast on Saturday, the search effort has resumed.
“TOTE Maritime continues to work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and all available resources to locate and establish communication with the El Faro,” Tim Nolan, president of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, said in a statement.