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Monday, October 5, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin lashes Bermuda ~ container ship El Faro feared missing !!

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley didn't mince words on  Sunday about just how dangerous a situation the weather -- which was blamed for five deaths in the state by Sunday night -- had become in her state. "We are at a 1,000-year level of rain," Haley said at an afternoon news conference. "That's how big this is." Since weather records don't go back far enough to know if it's rained this much in South Carolina in a 1,000 years, a "thousand-year rainfall" means that the amount of rainfall in South Carolina has a 1-in-1,000 chance of happening in any given year, explained CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.

It is ‘hurricane Joaquin’- a  hurricane warning remains in effect for Bermuda as Hurricane Joaquin moves on a path that has taken the centre of the storm just west of the archipelago. Tropical-storm force winds gusted over 60 mph early Sunday evening in Bermuda and tropical downpours rained down on the area. Joaquin is expected to continue to slowly weaken over the next 48 hours.  The reports stated that tropical storm-force conditions will undoubtedly lash Bermuda by late Sunday morning and the possibility exists for hurricane-force winds to also impact the island in the afternoon and early evening. Interests in Bermuda should be prepared for damaging hurricane conditions (winds 74 mph or greater) during the second half of the day on Sunday, along with significant coastal flooding from storm surge and large, battering waves. Rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches were also expected.

The reports further stated that the strongest winds will be on the immediate east side of Joaquin, which will almost certainly pass directly over Bermuda. Hence the reason for the hurricane warning. Since Joaquin is a fast-moving storm, heading north-northeast at 30 mph, it should be quickly moving away from the island on Monday.

Crooked Island is part of a group of Bahamian islands defining a large, shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, of which the largest are Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the south-east, and the smaller are Long Cay (once known as Fortune Island) in the north-west, and Castle Island in the south. The islands were settled by American Loyalists in the late 1780s who set cotton plantations employing over 1,000 slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the British Empire these became uneconomical, and the replacement income from sponge diving has now dwindled as well. The inhabitants now live by fishing and small-scale farming. Bahamas is an island country.  The Bahamas became a British Crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy.  The Bahamas became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1973, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as its monarch.

There are reports of empty life rings spotted in the Bermuda Triangle where cargo ship carrying 33 people is missing as angry families hit out at captain's decision to sail straight into Hurricane Joaquin.  The captain aboard El Faro inexplicably sailed into Hurricane Joaquin on Friday and was last known to be near the Bahamas' Crooked Island. On Saturday, rescue teams spotted one life ring 120 miles northeast of Crooked Island.  By Sunday, a further two life rings and a life vest had been spotted, First Coast News reported, dealing an ominous blow to hope the 28 Americans and five Poles will be found alive. However, officials insist the finding is positive as it 'validates our search effort'.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it is still searching for car carrier ship El Faro after the vessel radioed to say it had lost power and was being battered by Hurricane Joaquin before losing contact. Tote Maritime reported on Saturday that a life ring from El Faro was found was 120 miles northeast of Crooked Island. That's about 70 miles northeast of the last known position of the El Faro before it lost contact with authorities with 33 people on board. The discovery of the life ring  by the HC130 crew is in no way indicative of the ship's fate or that of those on board.  The car carrier is believed to have been close to the eye of the storm and disappeared north of the Bahamas after setting sail from Florida destined for Puerto Rico, with 28 Americans and five Polish crew on board.

Shortly before losing contact, the Coast Guard said the vessel sent out a distress call reporting that it had lost power, had been overcome by the storm and was taking on water. Meanwhile the US Coastguard has launched two C-130 Hercules aircraft from its base in Clearwater, Florida in order to search for the 735ft vessel which is thought to be adrift in the Bermuda Triangle.

El Faro had earlier reported a list of 15 degrees likely made worse by its cargo of 391 containers above deck and 294 cars, trucks and trailers in its hold. Without working engines the ship is at the mercy of seas that were reported to be between 22ft and 30ft – the height of a three-storey house.  Sunday's discovery of the debris field, which consisted of Styrofoam, wood, cargo and other items, according the Coast Guard, came only hours after the agency said searchers had found "multiple items," including an oil sheen, life jackets and containers in the same search area. The company that owns the 790-foot ship, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, released a statement saying that a recovered container "appears to be from the El Faro," but according to the Coast Guard, there is no confirmation at this point that it or any of the missing objects belong to the missing vessel. "With every passing hour, the search expands. When you're searching for something in the ocean, tracking the drift patterns and dealing with weather elements -- things are moving," an agency said, describing the challenges of the search.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Oct 2015.

News from CNN Daily Mail – photos

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