Ship boat

Search for missing ship off Japanese coast intensifies

The Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido, Japan, near where the Kazu 1 was sailing. /Kyodo/via REUTERS

The Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido, Japan, near where the Kazu 1 was sailing. /Kyodo/via REUTERS

The Japanese Coast Guard used planes and patrol boats on Saturday to search for a tour boat with 26 people on board, more than nine hours after it was reported to be sinking off the northern island of Hokkaido, said a coastguard officer.

The coastguard learned from the crew of the “Kazu 1” around 1:15 p.m. (0415 GMT) that water was pouring into the ship and it was beginning to sink, the official said.

The ship was last heard from around 3 p.m. when it contacted its operating company to say it was at a 30-degree angle, Kyodo News reported. The crew said those on board were wearing life jackets, public broadcaster NHK said.

There were 24 passengers, including two children, on board and two crew members, the official said.

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The Coast Guard was still searching at 10:30 p.m., the official said.

He had dispatched five patrol boats and two planes to the search, and requested help from the self-defense forces, media said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has asked authorities to use all available means for the search, Kyodo said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The boat was in the Shiretoko Peninsula region, off Japan’s northernmost island, and was said to have been near Kashinu Falls, a popular tourist spot for its natural beauty, when it ran into difficulty .

The ship can accommodate 65 people, and tours to the Shiretoko area typically last about three hours, according to the travel agency’s website.

The boat left Utoro port around 10 a.m. Saturday and was expected to return to port around 1 p.m., NHK said. The waves were high and fishing boats in the area had returned to port by mid-morning.

Reuters

Source(s): Reuters