Miami: The US Coast Guard said on Monday it has discovered a body from the lost El Faro cargo ship, which is believed to have sunk in the Atlantic with 33 people aboard.
Several survival suits were found and searchers "did identify human remains in one," Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said. "We are assuming that the vessel has sunk," he told reporters.
"We are still looking for survivors or any signs of life, any signs of that vessel."
Following days of stormy weather from Hurricane Joaquin, searchers yesterday were finally able to see "a lot of material that was at sea," he said.
While en route from Florida to Puerto Rico with 28 Americans and five Poles on board, the 735-foot El Faro lost contact early Thursday as the dangerous weather system approached the Bahamas.
It was reported to be caught in the storm near the chain's Crooked Island, from which the ship sent a satellite notification stating it had lost propulsion and had a 15-degree list.
Fedor said that the Coast Guard had "covered 70,000 square nautical miles" yesterday and that it was believed that the ship "sank in the last known position that we recorded on Thursday."
"We've modified our search efforts to focus more on potential people in the water, life boats and life rafts," Fedor added.
Items recovered from the ship include a life ring and life boat.
Searchers also checked life rafts, life boats and survival suits, looking for signs of life.
"We were hoping to find a survivor so we needed to check every one. We did identify human remains in one of the survival suits," Fedor told reporters, adding that there were "no other signs of life at this time."
The body, he said, was unidentifiable and the Coast Guard had not been able to recover it.
Another debris field had been identified some 97 kilometres northward. Both areas are being searched and three Coast Guard cutters are on scene.
Also involved in the effort are "three commercial tugs that were hired by the shipping company. And we have a full schedule of aircraft that are flying all day today," Fedor said.
"We will hopefully find survivors. That is our focus as we move forward," he said.