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U.S. Coast Guard believes missing ship sank, 1 body located

An unidentified body has been recovered in the search for the U.S.-flagged cargo ship El Faro, which authorities now believe sank near the Bahamas after being caught up in Hurricane Joaquin.

Captain Mark Fedor, chief of response for the Coast Guard 7th District, said at a press conference on Monday that the Coast Guard has concluded that the El Faro sank after encountering heavy winds and seas near the Bahamas. It is believed that the ship sank at its last known position, which is about 35 nautical miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Crooked Island.

One body, believed to be that of a crew member, was located in a so-called survival suit, though the remains were unidentifiable, Capt. Fedor said. A heavily damaged life boat with El Faro markings was also located but contained no crew members. A second life boat, which had the capacity to hold the entire crew, has not yet been located.

"We are still looking for survivors," he said, speaking some 96 hours after the vessel was last heard from. He said the search for the crew members is focused on the last known position as well as areas to the north, where survivors could have drifted to.

A total of 33 crew members, including 28 Americans and 5 Polish nationals, were on board the El Faro, which is a 735-foot ro-ro cargo ship that was carrying 391 containers. In the crew's last satellite notification on Thursday morning, the crew reported having lost propulsion while the ship had a 15-degree list. They also reported that the ship had earlier taken on water, but that all flooding had been contained.

The El Faro left the port of Jacksonville in Florida on Tuesday and was expected to arrive in Puerto Rico on Friday.

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