The 12 people missing after a commercial platform vessel overturned in waters off Louisiana have still not been located as of Thursday morning, the Coast Guard tells Fox News, as family members are holding out hope that their loved ones are alive.
The developments come as new footage has emerged of waves thrashing against the Seacor Power following its capsizing Tuesday afternoon in rough seas about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Port Fourchon. The ship encountered challenging weather in which winds were gusting as high as 90 miles per hour and seas were 7 to 9 feet high, according to Will Watson, the sector commander of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans.
“Whenever we engage – the Coast Guard engages in a search and rescue effort – we are hopeful,” Watson said Wednesday when asked for his outlook on the search for those missing. “You can’t do this work if you are not optimistic, if you are not hopeful when you do it. So I will tell you that we remain hopeful.”
There were 19 people on board the vessel, six of whom have been rescued and brought to safety, according to Watson. Search and rescue crews at the ship’s current site found one person deceased “on the surface of the water” on Wednesday, he added.
A Coast Guard spokesperson, in an email to Fox News Thursday morning, said there were “no updates” overnight and the “search continues for 12 missing persons.”
Coast Guard divers plan to reach the vessel today, the Associated Press reports. But Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally told the news agency that officials want to make sure the divers won’t need rescuing themselves when they enter the depths of the ship.
“With something like this, that is a vessel that is capsized with the potential of people trapped inside, there are a lot of dynamic aspects we have to look at,” he said.
The AP reports that authorities are also using all-terrain vehicles to search the shoreline near Port Fourchon — but that effort was paused Thursday as storms are moving in.
Family members of those missing, meanwhile, are not giving up hope that their loved ones are alive.
Among those the Coast Guard is looking for is Chaz Morales, a crane operator and father of three.
“He said that they were jacking down and they were about to head out, and I’m like, ‘The weather’s too bad. You need to come home.’ And he’s like, ‘I wish I could,’” Marion Cuyler, his fiancée, told The Associated Press on Wednesday while recalling the conversation she had with Morales the day before.
She had joined the families of other missing workers at a fire station in Port Fourchon where helicopters were landing and departing, The Associated Press adds.
“Please let him be one of the ones … please let him, get him out,” Morales’ mother, Darra, told NBC News, describing her son as an “unreal” father who “loves his babies”.
Maddy Boteler, Morales’ 17-year-old niece, said to NOLA.com that she hopes he is alive in an air pocket inside the ship.
“We’re hoping for air pockets,” she said. “We’re hoping for everything.”
Gregory Walcott, a 62-year-old who worked in the ship’s kitchen, also is among those missing, according to CBS News.
“What’s affecting us the most is that we are not hearing anything. It’s just dreadful, just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring,” his niece told the station. “So we are trying to just stand in fate and that we are going to get the phone call soon that he is found safe and he is alive.”
Others took to Facebook, asking for prayers that their loved ones would be found safe.
“My uncle is still unaccounted for,” Lauren Vaccaro, who identified Quinon Pitre as being on board the vessel, posted on Facebook Wednesday.
“I pray that you are clinging to that vessel with every ounce of strength you can find until they are able to get to you. You are tough and resilient and a fighter,” she wrote. “We love you and are praying so hard for good news and you and the other crew members safe return.”
In another post, Nicole Daspit Latiolais wrote “prayer warriors, please pray for the safety of my nephew/Godchild, Dylan.
“He was on the boat that capsized yesterday. We still do not know anything,” she wrote Wednesday. “We are worried sick!”
Seacor Marine, in a statement to the media, said “we are deeply saddened by the news of the vessel capsizing and are working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities to support all efforts to locate our valued team members and partners.”
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