The brother of an Australian missing from a ship that disappeared in a typhoon off the coast of Japan reckons there’s a good chance his sibling could still be alive and issued heartbreaking pleas for the search to resume.
William Mainprize, 27, and Lukas Orda, 25, were two of 43 crew on board the Gulf Livestock 1 that was carrying 6000 cows when it issued a distress call last week after running into Typhoon Mayask off the Japanese coast.
On Wednesday the Japanese Coast Guard said it would downgrade the search to a regular patrol after no further clues were found.
However, the brother of Mr Mainprize, Tom, told the Today show this morning his brother could’ve had time to get into a lifeboat as the ship’s engines stalled, and thinks the decision to stop looking for survivors is “strange”.
“We know that the life rafts were deployed so there is a chance they’re on a vessel somewhere,” Mr Mainprize told Today.
“It is a pretty tough time. It is a mixture of emotions because obviously Will is missing.”
He said the family had initially feared the worst.
“We went through a period of mourning but then we got good snippets of information that’s giving us hope that he’s still out there with the other crew and just waiting to get picked up,” Mr Mainprize said.
“The first thought we had was it was a rogue wave and they weren’t ready but then we’ve got indications that they were kind of floundering for a while with the engines cut off, and they had time to prepare.
“Considering that and what they would do in that situation, we think there would be time to get off the boat. With 40 people still missing, we just think it’s very strange that they’ve just scaled down the search.
He still has hope his brother is still alive.
“If anyone is going to survive and help all the other rest of the missing crew out, it’s Will,” Mr Mainprize said.
“We just need everyone, not only our government but all the other governments that are involved, even private enterprise, whoever can help us, help with the search and whoever it may be to search that area and scale it up a little bit more. That’s all we’re really asking for.”
However, the Japanese Coast Guard says the search is off.
“We decided to shift our exclusive search for the missing people of the ship to a regular patrol search as of today’s sunset time,” the coast guard said in a statement.
“We didn’t find any clues for them after today’s search with a patrol ship and a plane.”
Two survivors were found last week, while the body of a crew member was recovered at sea on Friday.
The family of Avalon man, William Mainprize, 27, who worked as an Australian certified stockperson aboard the ship, said they were thankful for the efforts but “need more help”.
“There are still so many unanswered questions and this is a time sensitive matter. There are 40 men still at sea and one lifeboat missing along with life rafts,” a spokesman for his parents Andrew and Belinda, and siblings Sarah, Tom and Emily, said.
It comes as Mr Mainprize’s girlfriend revealed her final text message exchange with him as the typhoon hit.
“We are in the middle of a typhoon and engine control room is taking on water,” he wrote to his girlfriend Charlie Gray, the Mail Online reports.
“Engine is off and we are floating sideways in huge sea,”
“Oh man it’s pretty hairy. Not sure of the severity of it at the moment.”
The Mainprize family said their loving son has an Aussie sense of adventure and has trekked through the Himalayas, cycled across Pakistan and worked with at-risk youths in the community.
“We are hopeful that our dear Will is out there with the other remaining crew waiting to be rescued,” the spokesman said.
“Our hearts go out to all the other families who are eagerly awaiting positive news of the rescue efforts.”
In response to some claims on social media about animal welfare aboard the ship, the family said William was “incredibly passionate about the environment, social justice and animal and human rights.”
He would often share updates about individual animals with the family on WhatsApp.
LUKAS ORDA’S FAMILY LAUNCHES PETITION
The plea comes as the family of fellow missing Australian, Lukas Orda, who recently married and has a six-month old son, launched an online petition calling for the search to resume.
Lukas’ father Ulrich who is the head doctor at the Mount Isa hospital emergency department, and his mother Sabine want other countries to help out in a MH370-style search to scour the ocean, the ABC reports.
“We have set the bar high previously with our own searches for the missing Malaysian flight MH370 along with the successful rescue of other seafarers,” the petition states.
“We in this case do at least have relatively reliable information regarding the last-known location of the vessel along with modern technology and satellite equipment to provide a high chance of a better outcome than MH370.”
The family believe there is a “strong possibility that at least some of the crew members including Lukas … made it into a missing lifeboat or raft”.
Last week two Filipino crew members were found floating on a life raft after hours at sea.
The first survivor, a 45-year-old chief officer, told rescuers he had put on a life jacket and jumped into the sea after a warning announcement on board.
He said one of the boat’s engines had stalled and the vessel was overturned by a powerful wave before eventually sinking.
The second survivor, a 30-year-old also from the Philippines, was spotted in a life raft several kilometres from Kodakarajima, a remote island in southwestern Japan.
The man, identified as a deckhand, was reached by a patrol boat and was alone in the raft. He was able to walk unassisted, the coastguard said.
Precisely when and where the vessel sank remains unclear. There has been little sign of other survivors, with the coastguard spotting an empty rubber dinghy and a life jacket during their search.
Dead cows from the boat have also been seen in the waves.
– With wires
The family of William Mainprize ask that anyone with information or who might be able to assist contact the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on 1800 627 484.