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Friday Jul 1, 2022

10 found dead after Japan tour boat with 26 aboard sinks


Nepalnews
2022 Apr 25, 7:55,
This aerial photo shows a rescuer being lifted in a search operation for missing passengers and crew members of a sunken tour boat. Photo: AP

 Rescuers said that 10 people who were retrieved Sunday from the frigid sea and the rocky coast of a northern Japanese national park had died, a day after a tour boat with 26 aboard apparently sank in rough waters, triggering questions why it was allowed to sail.

The search for the others is still ongoing after the boat sent a distress call on Saturday afternoon saying it was sinking. The location, near the Kashuni Waterfall, is known as a difficult place to maneuver boats because of its rocky coastline and strong tide.

There were two crew and 24 passengers, including two children, on the the 19-ton Kazu 1 when it ran into troubles while traveling off the western coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula. The coast guard said the 10 victims — seven men and three women — were adults.

The Transport Ministry launched an investigation into the boat’s operator, which had two accidents last year. The ministry said it was looking into safety standards and the decision to conduct the tour despite rough weather on Saturday.

The operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, had been instructed to take steps to improve its safety following earlier accidents in which it ran aground in June without causing injuries, and another in May, when three passengers suffered minor injuries when the boat collided with an object.

Rescuers attend a person found on a rocky area near the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan of Hokkaido Sunday, April 24, 2022.
Photo: AP
Rescuers attend a person found on a rocky area near the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan of Hokkaido Sunday, April 24, 2022. Photo: AP

“We will thoroughly investigate what caused this situation and what kind of safety oversight was involved to allow the tour in order to prevent another accident,” Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito, who visited the area Sunday, told reporters.

Following an intensive search involving six patrol boats, several aircraft and divers that went through the night, rescuers on early Sunday found four people near the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula and later six more in the same area, about 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) north from where the boat sent a distress call. Some of them were plucked from the sea, while others were washed onto the rocky coast.

An orange-colored, square-shaped lifesaving float with the boat’s name on it was also found near the rocks, the coast guard said.

Footage on public broadcaster NHK showed one of the victims arriving on a helicopter and being transferred to an ambulance on a stretcher. Rescuers held up blue plastic shields to protect the victim’s privacy.

The sightseeing vessel made an emergency call early Saturday afternoon, saying its bow had flooded and that it was beginning to sink and tilt, the coast guard said. Contact with the boat had since been lost. The coast guard said the operator told them that everyone on the boat was wearing a life vest, but some of the victims found were without them.

Average April sea temperatures in Shiretoko National Park are just above freezing, which experts say would cause hypothermia.

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Rescuers rocky coast tour boat Kashuni Waterfall Shiretoko Peninsula Accidents aircraft hypothermia
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