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Coast Guard Calls Off Search For El Faro Crew

Maine Maritime Academy students attend a Tuesday evening vigil of hope for the missing crew members of the U.S. container ship El Faro.
Robert F. Bukaty

Six days after communication was lost with the El Faro cargo ship as it drifted into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, the U.S. Coast Guard ended the search for survivors.

Of the 33 people aboard the ship, rescuers found one body on Monday:

"Several 'survival suits' were spotted floating in the water, one of which contained the body. In addition, an empty, heavily damaged lifeboat was found."

The ship went missing near the Bahamas after it set out from Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday. Bound for Puerto Rico, the cargo ship lost power and propulsion and the Coast Guard concluded Monday that it had sunk.

Twenty-eight of the 33 crew members were Americans, and the other five were from Poland.

Updated 6:50 p.m. ET: comment by the president

President Obama put out a statement which said, in part:

I thank everyone across our government and in the private sector who worked so tirelessly, on the sea and in the air, day after day, in the massive search for survivors. The investigation now underway will have the full support of the U.S. government, because the grieving families of the El Faro deserve answers and because we have to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our people, including those who work at sea.

As we previously reported:

"Joseph Murphy, a former master of commercial ships and now an instructor at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, told Here & Nowthat he can understand why the tragedy occurred.

"'Unfortunately, while people may think we have perfect information, we do not. When they sailed, it was reported as a tropical storm, something that ship has gone through many times in that very same areas,' he said. "What was not anticipated or known was the intensification of the storm and its development into a Category 4.'

"Murphy said that one of the academy's graduates was aboard the ship. He characterized the loss as one of the 'perils of the sea.'

"He said the ship 'had the best of equipment, it was well inspected. The crew were well trained. They were simply overwhelmed by the force of nature.'"

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