OPINION: Let’s do all we can in search for the lost at sea

Raelene HallGeraldton Guardian
A survivor of the capsized cattle ship waves to rescuers.
Camera IconA survivor of the capsized cattle ship waves to rescuers. Credit: Handout/Japan Coast Guard, 10th Regional

No one leaves their loved ones thinking they won’t return, regardless of their chosen career — and those left behind always expect and hope they will walk back in the door.

Life isn’t as cut and dried as that though. Every single person on this Earth has either experienced the loss of a loved one or knows someone who has.

Sometimes, it is because people do bad or stupid things, other times it may be because they are risk takers and at times, Mother Nature steps in and reminds us we have no control over her.

So was the case recently when live-export vessel Gulf Livestock I, carrying nearly 6000 cattle from New Zealand to Japan and with 43 crew on board from New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines, capsized in a typhoon in the East China Sea on September 2.

The Japanese coast guard responded to a distress signal, and rescued three Filipino sailors, one unfortunately deceased.

The coast guard called off its full-time search for any survivors on September 8. This has devastated the family of those on board, who still hold out hope there are survivors out there, possibly in lifeboats.

There is a desperate plea from these families and their friends for governments of NZ and Australia, to do all they can to encourage the Japanese to continue the search as well as using all the resources available to assist.

I think we owe it to those missing and their families to do just this. We don’t hesitate to do search and rescue for people who take risks by sailing solo around the world.

We search for people missing in the desert who haven’t taken sufficient precautions and we offer support to those caught committing criminal offences in other countries. These missing men were just doing the job they were employed for.

None of them were taking exceptional risks, nor trying to break some world record or breaking any laws. They were just hardworking men who found themselves at the mercy of Mother Nature’s fury.

We have boats, planes, helicopters and satellite technology available to us.

There are people who specialise in these kinds of searches. Let’s bring them in.

It’s time for Australian and New Zealand governments to resurrect the Anzac spirit.

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