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Parish priest of missing veterinarian says families saddened by government response but welcome Pope’s gift

Missing: Lukas Orda has been described as a gifted vet. (Facebook: Lukas Orda)

POPE Francis has sent a monetary gift to families of crew members aboard a cattle ship, including two Australians, which sank in the East China Sea on September 2.

While the gift was still on its way from Rome, Mount Isa parish priest Fr Mick Lowcock said he had received no updates on the situation with Mount Isa Catholic Lukas Orda, (pictured) who was among the crewmembers aboard Gulf Livestock 1 when it sank.

The parents and wife of Mr Orda had appeared on ABC News and campaigned in the days after the ship sank for the federal government to put more pressure on the Japanese government for search and rescue.

Fr Lowcock said the family had worked out they had one plane and one boat for two hours a day and that had been scaled back.

“People were disillusioned with the government response, and they’re quite sad to think that there was not much of a response for people who are Australians or New Zealanders,” Fr Lowcock told The Catholic Leader.

“Not much was done for them officially.

“People are resigned now to the fact that there has not even been any talk to recover anyone from the boat.

“There’s a deep sadness about it all; people had a high expectation on a better result from government.”

He said from the sadness of it all, people were coming to the realisation now that no one would be found apart from the two found originally.

“It’s a shame that no one is even talking about searching the ship for bodies,” Fr Lowcock said.

“We can only do what we can do; people tried to raise the issue and it didn’t get very far from a local point of view.”

It was unclear why the government had not put more pressure on the Japanese government for search and rescue, but there has been speculation Australia did not want to destabilise their trade relationship with Japan amid existing tensions with China.

More than 61,000 people have signed a petition calling for more extensive searches on change.org.

The total amount of Pope Francis’ gift was not disclosed but the Holy See confirmed it was a personal gift from the pope to the families and survivors.

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