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Mount Isa community ‘shattered’ after local Catholic veterinarian goes missing on capsized ship

Missing: Lukas Orda, 25, is missing after the livestock ship he was on capsized in the East China Sea. Photo: Facebook/Lukas Orda)

QUEENSLAND veterinarian Lukas Orda, 25, was aboard Gulf Livestock 1, which was carrying 43 crew members and 5800 head of cattle in the East China Sea, when it capsized on Wednesday.

His wife Emma, who had recently given birth to their first child Theo, posted a photo of the pair on social media – “Please come home really soon, we love you”.

News of his disappearance had devastated his Mount Isa community, where he and his family had settled after migrating from Germany.

Speaking to The Catholic Leader, Mount Isa parish priest Fr Mick Lowcock said the news was tragic.

Fr Lowcock said Mr Orda had “touched a lot of lives”.

In fact, he had been shown Mr Orda’s Facebook page, and the second-last post was a message of congratulations to Fr Lowcock for winning the Queensland Great Award this year.

“That’s typical of him,” Fr Lowcock said.

“He’d always come up to talk to you, you know, it doesn’t matter where or who he’s with.”

Fr Lowcock had spoken to Mr Orda’s father last night, and he was “absolutely devastated”.

He said the family was still living in shock.

The parish was praying for him and his family, he said, and would hold a service when the family returned from Townsville, where they were staying with Mr Orda’s sister.

Fr Lowcock said the Orda family always had a special connection to Pope Benedict XVI, having come from the same place in Germany as the pope emeritus, before settling in Mount Isa.

Both Mr Orda and his sister had schooled at Good Shepherd Catholic College.

Good Shepherd principal Kathleen McCarthy said the school community was “very saddened to hear the news”.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lukas and his family,” she said. 

“We ask God for all the strength of faith and hope to believe that Lukas will make a safe return home.” 

After his time at Good Shepherd, Mr Orda had gone on to study to be a veterinarian and found work on livestock ships.

Fr Lowcock said no one realised how many lives someone like Mr Orda touched until a time like this.

Dozens of friends have reached out to show support on social media.

Only one crew member had been found alive, who said the ship had sunk during rough weather from Typhoon Maysak.

The livestock ship had departed New Zealand on August 14 and was due to arrive in China by next Friday.

The search for the missing crew members continued, but authorities have not found any more survivors.

Three vessels, five airplanes and two divers had been deployed to continue the search.

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