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More Debris But no Word on Fate of Ship Lost Off Bahamas

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NASSAU, Bahamas, Oct 05 2015 — The search for a U.S. cargo ship that was lost during Hurricane Joaquin off the southeastern Bahamas turned up more clues Sunday but no word yet on the fate of the vessel or its 33-member crew.

Aircraft and ships taking part in the search located a container that appears to have come from the 790-foot El Faro, according to the owner of the vessel, while the Coast Guard said it has found a debris field that includes what appear to be pieces of container. They also spotted an oil sheen in the sea.

The latest finds follow the discovery of an orange life ring that was confirmed to have come from the El Faro a day earlier. Chief Petty Officer Bobby Nash said it was too early to come to any conclusion.

“We still don’t have communication with the ship and we don’t even know if the debris field is from the ship,” said Nash, a Coast Guard spokesman.

The fourth-day of searching across a wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island was aided by the first day of calmer weather now that Joaquin has left the Bahamas and was en route to Bermuda. Two Coast Guard cutters, the Northland and Resolute, were expected to continue searching overnight Sunday as the aircraft returned to their bases.

Authorities lost contact with the El Faro early Thursday as the ship sailed through the Bahamas at the height of the storm as it sailed from its homeport in Jacksonville, Florida, to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Family members of the crew said they were trying to remain optimistic, but were also clearly in agony as they anxiously awaited word of any developments at the Seafarer’s International Union hall in Jacksonville. Some sobbed and hugged each other. (AP)

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