A body was found Wednesday as the search continued for 12 people missing after a 129-foot commercial boat capsized in angry seas off Louisiana.
Good Samaritan boaters joined Coast Guard vessels and a helicopter searching the Gulf of Mexico, one day after six people were rescued Tuesday from the Seacor Power south of Grand Isle. Winds were whipping at up to 90 mph when the vessel overturned amid waves reaching 9 feet, Coast Guard Capt. Will Watson said Wednesday.
“We are hopeful” of finding survivors,” Watson said. “We can’t do this work if you’re not optimistic, if you’re not hopeful.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted support for the effort: “Please join @FirstLadyOfLA and me in praying for those who remain missing after yesterday’s capsizing off the coast of Grand Isle and for those who are working to rescue them.”
The Coast Guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast at 4:30 p.m. local time Tuesday after being alerted that the boat was in distress. The cutter Glenn Harris, a 154-foot rescue ship, arrived on the scene within 30 minutes and pulled one person from the capsized vessel, the agency said.
Another Coast Guard boat crew also pulled someone from the water, and other vessels rescued four people.
The National Weather Service had issued a special marine warning Tuesday, alerting boaters to “seek safe harbor … take protective actions.” The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services reported wind gusts as high as 75 mph. Videos from the region show drenching rains and strong winds.
Commercial boat capsized in severe weather: 6 people rescued, more missing
“The hope is that we can bring the other 12 home alive,” Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III said Wednesday morning, adding that the forecast was for more “rough weather.”
Bruce Simon said he was on a boat in the area during the storm and that he battled to keep the bow in the wind.
“I’ve NEVER Heard soo many MAYDAY calls in my life!” Simon said in a Facebook post that described smaller boats also flipping or taking on water. “Please pray for the Lost!”
Liftoats have open decks and lifts to raise them above the water. They are often used for offshore mineral exploration and construction. The Seacor Power, owned by Seacor Marine, was built in 2002 and had a crew and passenger capacity of 48, according to the owner’s website.
The ship can carry more than 40,000 gallons of fuel, but it was not immediately clear how much if any spilled into the sea.
Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet, whose district includes nearby Grand Isle, told nola.com that multiple vessels were overturned or ruined on the island, and that some trailers and businesses were damaged.
“We expected some winds and possible rains, but nothing as extensive as what took place on the coastal areas of Jefferson Parish,” Templet said.