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Calls for ‘big tech’ to help find Australians missing from live export ship sunk by typhoon

The family of missing Australian stockman, William Mainprize, is hoping private technology companies could be the key to finding him.

Key points:

  • It has been three weeks since the live export ship went missing during a typhoon
  • The family of former Bathurst man William Mainprize is hopeful he and 40 others are still alive
  • They are calling on technology industries to lend their services to the search

Mr Mainprize, 27, was on board the Gulf Livestock 1 when it went missing during a typhoon near the coast of Japan three weeks ago.

His sister Sarah Mainprize said despite the time that had elapsed since the ship vanished with 43 crew and more than 5,800 cattle on board, she had not given up hope of finding her brother alive.

“There are four life rafts that are missing that automatically deploy once the ship gets to either a certain amount of degrees [tilt] or if it is submerged below four metres,” Ms Mainprize said.

A man in a pink shirt sits with two women, one holding a baby, and another man in the background.

William Mainprize, left, is the youngest of four children. His sister Sarah, holding the baby, said the family is ‘incredibly close-knit’.(Supplied)

Ms Mainprize said testimony from two survivors that the remaining 40 men were waiting to climb into the rafts meant they could still be waiting to be rescued.

“Based on those key facts, we believe they are waiting to be rescued.”

Call for big tech to help

Ms Mainprize said she was grateful for the assistance of Australian and Japanese authorities to find the men.

More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition begging the Japan Coast Guard to accept Australian government support for the search.

The family is now raising money and hoping the private sector could have the answers.

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Tom Mainprize, brother of one of two Australians missing on live export ship, appeals for assistance.

“Whether that be big tech, satellites, GPS services, anything that may help us to complement the Government’s efforts so far,” Ms Mainprize said.

She said the experience has been “the most truly devastating thing that has ever happened” to her “close-knit family “.

A man close to the camera smiles with a group of seven men and women further back, dressed in trekking gear standing in a river.

Sarah Mainprize said her brother William was a ‘survival specialist’ whose day job was taking trekking groups through remote Tasmania.(Supplied)

Had been ‘final voyage’

Ms Mainprize said William, a graduate of Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, had been planning to buy a house.

“William is a survival specialist,” she said.

“His day job is taking groups of people through the most remote locations in Tasmania for up to 10 days at a time.

During the typhoon, William was messaging with his friend Harry Morrison.

Whatsapp conversation screenshot. Mr Mainprize describes the situation as very hairy and says the engine is taking on water

The night the ship sunk, Mr Mainprize was messaging his friend Harry Morrison who he had previously worked alongside.(Supplied)

Mr Morrison formerly worked alongside William on live export vessels.

“We are in the middle of a typhoon and engine control room is taking on water,” a message to Mr Morrison at 8:36pm said.

Video taken on board the ship by fellow missing Australian Lukas Orda before it disappeared shows the livestock carrier rolling heavily in rough seas.

Ms Mainprize said she spoke to William the night before the ship sunk and had also been concerned about what could happen.

Early the next morning she searched for the ship’s location, but found the top result brought up news it was missing.

“It was a living nightmare to find articles of the fact the ship was missing, and the journey we’ve been on since then,” she said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been contacted for comment.

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Footage shot by Lukas Orda from the bridge of the Gulf Livestock 1 in heavy seas.

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