El Faro

(P1) Rescuers have found DEBRIS believed to be from the CARGO ship El Faro, which went missing near the Bahamas in the eye of HURRICANE Joaquin with 33 mostly American CREW members aboard more than three days ago.

(P2) The US COAST GUARD said late on Sunday the debris field covered 225 square miles, and included STYROFOAM, wood, cargo, and other items.

(P3) LIFEJACKETS, containers, and an oil SHEEN were spotted by Coast Guard aircrews flying over the Bahamas on the third day of their search for the CONTAINER SHIP.

(P4) Tim Nolan, president of the ship’s owner, Tote Maritime, said two VESSELS the company sent to the scene had found a container “which appears to be from the El Faro”.

(P5) The coast guard could not confirm the objects belonged to the ship, which sent a DISTRESS CALL (SOS) on Thursday morning in the Bahamas but has not been heard from since.

(P6) There was no sighting of the El Faro or any LIFEBOATS, Nolan said.

(P7) The ship reportedly had five life rafts, four in the rear and one in the front, which could hold 15-17 people each. It has been in service for many years and was built to work in the rough seas off Alaska.

(P8) With no word on the fate of the crew, relatives gathered at a SEAFARERS’ union hall in Jacksonville, Florida, where they were BRIEFED by the Coast Guard and the ship’s owner.

(P9) An uncle of one of the crew members from the El Faro says the ship was EQUIPPED with modern lifeboats. But Barry Young says no one knows whether the 33 crew members had a chance to use them.

(P10) Young spoke to reporters outside the union hall. He says the families have been praying together and trying to support each other.

(P11) “We want CLOSURE and we hope and pray that it’s them being brought home safely,” he said.

(P12) “This is my baby, this is my little girl,” said Mary Shevory Wright, an ELDERLY woman waiting for word about her daughter, Mariette Wright, 51, a DECKHAND who had been at sea since the age of 18.

(P13) Fearing the worst Shevory Wright said she was RELUCTANT to enter the union hall. “They are just going to make me cry.”

(P14) Another woman sat by the KERB outside the union hall SOBBING as family members hugged each other and held hands nearby.

(P15) Weather conditions in the search area had greatly improved on Sunday, the Coast Guard said. Four C-130 SEARCH-AND-RESCUE planes from the coast guard and US air force went out at dawn, while three coast guard CUTTERS were also sent to the area.

(P16) El Faro, a 735-foot (224-metre) container ship with 28 US citizens and five Poles aboard, was headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida when it reported losing PROPULSION, LISTING and taking on water after sailing into the path of Joaquin in the Bahamas, the coast guard said.

(P17) Relatives of the crew have spoken highly of the ship’s experienced captain, though some questioned the decision to sail into such a powerful storm.

(P18) “The ship should never have left,” Rochelle Hamm, wife of one crew member, Frank Hamm, a father of five, told NBC News. After it DEPARTED it should have changed course before Joaquin became a hurricane, she added.

(P19) Joaquin BATTERED the central Bahamas ARCHIPELAGO for more than two days with 130 mile-per-hour (210 km-per-hour) winds, a potentially CATASTROPHIC Category 4 hurricane on a scale of 1 to 5.

(P20) “The ship was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mike Hanson, a spokesman for Tote Maritime, said in an interview. Joaquin was just a TROPICAL STORM when El Faro set out from Jacksonville but later INTENSIFIED rapidly into a major hurricane, he added.

(P21) The National Hurricane Center warned late Tuesday that Joaquin would become a hurricane in the central Bahamas within 12 hours. 

WORDS: 643



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Working at sea is still the most dangerous of all jobs. Why is this true?
  3. Have you ever been in a major storm of any kind?
  4. The El Faro had lifeboats, but the hurricane it ENCOUNTERED was very intense. Why do you think there were no survivors?
  5. In situations like these, people sometimes say that the worst thing is not knowing exactly what happened. Do you agree with that?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Coast Guard
  • Container ship
  • Distress call
  • Search-and-rescue
  • Tropical storm

Cambly Practice Button


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