MIAMI, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard found a body off the Bahamas in the search for survivors from cargo ship El Faro, which sank after encountering Hurricane Joaquin.
The 7th Coast Guard District in Miami released a statement saying the crew member was found Monday in a survival suit.
Contact with the vessel was lost Thursday as it bore Hurricane Joaquin's 130 mph winds on its way through the Bahamas to Puerto Rico. The ship was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.
The last known location of El Faro was about 35 nautical miles northeast of Crooked Islands in the Bahamas. In addition to the body, the Coast Guard found a damaged lifeboat with markings linking it to the cargo ship as well as a life raft, life jackets, life rings, cargo containers and an oil sheen.
The USCG confirmed Monday that the ship sank during the hurricane, indicated by the large amount of Styrofoam packing debris that dotted the waters around its last reported location.
The Miami Herald said commercial shipping experts expect an upcoming federal report about the ship's fate. The report should indicate safer routes to take along the Florida coast should there be a hurricane.
El Faro was traveling to Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Fla. -- the most direct route being through the Bahamas.
Capt. Sam Stephenson, a teacher at the Resolve Maritime Academy in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. said the captain's decision to take such a route "makes no sense" and that "when you're a ship, you want to avoid the storm at all costs."
TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, the owner of the vessel, said the ship's route was authorized early Tuesday, when Joaquin was still a tropical storm. The Herald reported that by 11 p.m. Tuesday, when the ship was still not far from Jacksonville, weather forecasters were warning of 70 mph winds.
One crew member, Danielle Randolph, wrote an e-mail to her mother saying the ship was heading right into the hurricane. By 7:30 a.m. Thursday, the ship reported a loss of power and that it was taking on water.
Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said the conditions the ship endured made it easy for its hull to crack since it was suspended between waves and that top-heavy container ships like El Faro are prone to capsizing.
Fedor said a person can survive four to five days in the 80-degree water surrounding the Bahamas, meaning search for life will continue.
"We're not going to discount someone's will to survive," he said.