The coast guard said that a tour boat with 26 passengers on board went missing in the chilly waters of northern Japan on Saturday, hours after sending out a distress call claiming to be sinking.
A 26 Person Tour Boat Went Missing In Japan
Despite an intensive search involving six patrol boats, five aircraft, and divers, no survivors have been found after more than ten hours of searching. In a statement, the Coast Guard stated that it will continue the search into the evening.
While going off the western shore of Shiretoko Peninsula on Hokkaido’s northern island, the 19-ton Kazu 1 made an emergency call in the early afternoon, claiming that the ship’s bow had flooded and that it was beginning to sink and tilt, according to the coast guard.
According to the coast guard, the tour boat has subsequently lost communication with the shore. According to the report, the boat was carrying 24 people, including two children, as well as two staff members.
The average sea temperature in Shiretoko National Park in April is barely above freezing on average.
According to a representative of the vessel’s operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, he was unable to comment because he was responding to calls from concerned families of the guests on board the ship.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was in Kumamoto for a two-day water summit, announced on Sunday that he would postpone his Sunday schedule and would instead return home in order to deal with the missing boat, according to the NHK public broadcaster.
According to a local fisheries cooperative, large waves and heavy winds were seen in the area about noon. According to Japanese media sources, fishing boats had returned to port before midday as a result of the poor weather conditions.
High waves of up to 3 metres (9 feet) in height were predicted, according to the forecast.
According to Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor of marine science at Tokai University, the boat was likely to have hit aground after being blown around in severe waves, causing it to become damaged, waterlogged, and ultimately sink. A tour boat of that size is unlikely to have a life boat on board, and passengers may not be able to jump from a quickly sinking vessel because the windows are likely to be closed to protect them from severe winds.
When speaking with reporters, Yamada stated that there is also a remote probability of the boat being struck by a whale.
According to Jun Abe, deputy chairman of the Society of Water Rescue and Survival Research, the cold temperature and high wind could cause hypothermia, putting the passengers in a dangerous situation for survival. According to Abe, TBS, “it’s a pretty serious ailment, especially when they’re wet.”
According to the tour operator’s website, the excursion lasts approximately three hours and provides a picturesque view of the western shore of the peninsula, including the natural environment and wildlife such as whales, dolphins, and the brown bear, among others. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the national park is the southernmost place where drifting sea ice may be observed.