Privately funded search team claims to have found possible signs of life on islands near where Gulf Livestock 1 sank – 9News

A private search team claiming to have found possible signs of life on uninhabited islands near where the Gulf Livestock 1 cargo ship sank is urgently seeking government help as cash for its air scouts runs dry.

The ship disappeared below rough waves, forcing the ship's 43 crew into life rafts.

In the hours and days following the sinking, Japan's Coast Guard (JCG) rescued three survivors; one would tragically die.

However, a privately funded search operation, led by family and friends of Mr Mainprize, claims to have found signs of life on the Tokara Islands - a chain of 12 small islands off Japan's coast.

Of the 12 islands, only seven are inhabited with an estimated population ranging from 40 to a total of 600 people across the entire archipelago.

"We have been privately funding a search and rescue for two and a half weeks and we have narrowed it down into an area," Harry Morrison, a search spokesman and close friend of Mr Mainprize, told

"We're finding a lot of debris form the boat, we've found two dead cattle on an island.

"We've found parts of a life raft, we've found life rings, we've found life jackets."

Photos taken from the air search show debris from the cargo ship, life rafts and life jackets on the shorelines.

The search group has spent $50,000 of donated money on the fixed-wing flights and $75,000 on the helicopter flyover.

The expenses have dwindled their more than $116,000 in funds raised to just $4000.

With another typhoon forecast, the group has been given tomorrow and Saturday as crucial search days to revisit the islands.

Yet, tragically they don't have the cash to undertake the new searches.

Mr Morrison said the next proposed search had hoped to take in the Amami Islands.

"There's one island basically we have found the roof of a life raft on an island and it looks to be that plastic covering of the life raft was taken off," he said.

"When we found this life raft, we contacted JCG and told them and got no response for them.

"Communication with the Japanese Coast Guard has been very limited."

Mr Morrison said the JCG "didn't say yes but they didn't say no" when the group asked if they could search parts of the islands.

By September 10, the dedicated search had been called off with the JCG continuing to search for survivors, but only as part of its regular patrols.

The strength of Typhoon Maysak and a second typhoon had hampered the search effort.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have both offered assistance to Japan in the search, however Japan is yet to accept the offer.

Another large scale search for survivors is being conducted from California and on the shorelines of Japan.

"I was contacted to assist with the hope of SAR on behalf of a (Australian) family member and we decided to work as a collaborative effort on behalf of all the families," Shawn Alladio, President of International Rescue Instructors Association, told

Ms Alladio said the main aim of the search is to support the families remotely and provide search and rescue expertise through her company's bases in Japan and Taiwan.

"We are using EOS satellite imagery. Nobody has travelled to Japan because of COVID quarantines. So, this is all done through public assistance and our companies or others friends in the respective countries," she said.

"Our company in Taiwan has been conducted searches for debris along their shores in the field."

Contact reporter Kate Kachor at

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Privately funded search team claims to have found possible signs of life on islands near where Gulf Livestock 1 sank - 9News

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