The Latest: Coast Guard calls off search for missing crew

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U.S. Coast Guard to Suspend Search for Mariners Lost in Hurricane


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The latest on a U.S.-based cargo ship that sank in the Atlantic and the search for crew members. All times local:

7:45 p.m.

The Coast Guard says it has ended its search for 33 missing crew members from a U.S. cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

Petty Officer Mark Barney confirmed that the search ended for survivors from the El Faro at 7:00 p.m. Earlier, officials had announced the search would end at sunset.

The 790-foot cargo ship sank last week off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds and 50-foot waves.

The Coast Guard searched a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. The searchers found a body in a survival suit, but could not retrieve it. They also found an empty life raft, empty survival suits, a life ring and other debris.

The water in the area is 15,000 feet deep.

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6 p.m.

President Barack Obama is promising the "full support of the U.S. government" as officials investigate the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro.

In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Obama said the families of the crew members lost at sea deserve answers, and those who work at sea must be kept safe.

Obama noted that the crew of men and women included Americans and Poles, and that the tragedy serves as a reminder that the American economy depends on those who serve on ships like the El Faro. He offered a pray for their families to find comfort.

The vessel sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

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3 p.m.

The Coast Guard says its search will end Wednesday evening for 33 missing crew members from a U.S. cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

Officials said during an afternoon news conference that the Coast Guard will end its search for survivors from the El Faro at sunset. Officials had broken the news to relatives of the missing earlier in the day.

The 790-foot cargo ship sank Thursday off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that was producing 50-foot waves. Officials say the ship's captain had plans to go around the storm as he headed from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico but the El Faro suffered unexplained engine failure that left it unable to avoid the storm.

The Coast Guard had searched across a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. Searchers found a body in a survival suit, but were unable to retrieve it. They also found an empty life raft, empty survival suits, a life ring and other debris.

The water in the area is 15,000 feet deep.

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1:45 p.m.

The Coast Guard has told family members it is ending its search for 33 missing crew members from a U.S. cargo ship that sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin.

The father of a missing crew member said the Coast Guard will end its search for survivors from the El Faro at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Robert Green, father of LaShawn Rivera, said the Coast Guard informed relatives Wednesday afternoon.

The 790-foot cargo ship sank Thursday off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds that was producing 50-foot waves. Officials say the ship's captain had plans to go around the storm as he headed from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico but the El Faro suffered unexplained engine failure that left it unable to avoid the storm.

Three Coast Guard cutters, two C-130 aircraft, helicopters, three commercial tugboats and a U.S. Navy plane were searched across a 300-square-mile expanse of Atlantic Ocean near Crooked Island in the Bahamas. The searchers found a body in a survival suit, but were unable to retrieve it. They also found an empty life raft, empty survival suits, a life ring and other debris.

The water in the area is 15,000 feet deep.

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8:15 a.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it will try to retrieve the data recorder from 15,000 feet deep to learn why a cargo ship sank near the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin.

The safety investigation began as the Coast Guard continues to search for any of the 33 onboard that may have survived when container ship El Faro became disabled in the storm. Officials have said they found one body in a survival suit.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said late Tuesday that she hopes the ship can be found so investigators can access the Voyage Data Recorder.

Dinh-Zarr says the VDR begins pinging when it gets wet and has a 30-day battery life.

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5 a.m.

Federal investigators looking into the ill-fated voyage of a 790-foot freighter that's believed to have sunk in the Atlantic during Hurricane Joaquin will focus on the communications between the captain and the vessel's owner.

They also may further explore whether the five workers whose job was to prepare the engine room for a retrofitting had any role in the boat's loss of power.

Officials from the company that owns the vessel, Tote Inc., say they don't believe so. But the question - along with the captain's decision to plot a course near the storm - will help investigators figure out why the boat apparently sank near the Bahamas, possibly claiming the lives of all 33 aboard.

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