TOKYO — The Japanese Coast Guard stated Sunday that rescue helicopters discovered seven of the 26 individuals from a tour boat lacking within the frigid waters of northern Japan because the day earlier than, however their circumstances are unknown.
Rescuers discovered 4 individuals close to the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula earlier Sunday after which three extra individuals in the identical space a number of hours later, however the coast guard stated it couldn’t affirm whether or not they have been rescued alive. NHK public tv stated they have been unconscious.
The coast guard stated all seven individuals have been present in the identical space close to the tip of the peninsula north of the place the boat despatched a misery name on Saturday. The location is named a tough place to maneuver boats due to its rocky shoreline. The identical tour boat had an accident there final 12 months.
Footage on NHK confirmed one of many rescued individuals arriving on a helicopter and being transferred to an ambulance on a stretcher, whereas rescuers held up blue plastic shields for privateness.
The boat carrying 24 passengers, together with two youngsters, and two crew members had gone lacking after sending a misery name, saying it took on water and was starting to sink.
Sunday’s rescue got here after almost 19 hours of intense search involving six patrol boats, a number of plane and divers. The coast guard stated the search continued by means of the night time.
The 19-ton Kazu 1 made an emergency name within the early afternoon on Saturday, saying the ship’s bow had flooded and it was starting to sink and tilt whereas touring off the western coast of Shiretoko Peninsula on the northern island of Hokkaido, the coast guard stated.
The tour boat has since misplaced contact, in response to the coast guard. Nineteen individuals are nonetheless lacking.
Average April sea temperatures in Shiretoko National Park are simply above freezing.
An official for the vessel’s operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, stated he couldn’t remark as a result of he had to answer calls from anxious households of the passengers.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was attending a two-day summit in Kumamoto in southern Japan, canceled his program for the second day and returned to Tokyo. He informed reporters within the early hours of Sunday that he instructed officers “to do everything they can for the rescue.”
The explanation for the accident continues to be beneath investigation, however consultants suspect the boat ran aground and was broken in tough seas in an space identified for sturdy currents and a rocky shoreline.
High waves and robust winds have been noticed within the space round midday, in response to a neighborhood fisheries cooperative. Japanese media stories stated fishing boats had returned to port earlier than midday due to the unhealthy climate.
NHK stated there was a warning for prime waves of as much as 9 ft.
A tour boat crew belonging to a different operator informed NHK that he warned of tough seas when he noticed the Kazu 1 crew and informed them to not go. He stated the identical boat went aground final 12 months and suffered a crack on its bow.
The coast guard confirmed that the identical boat went aground within the space final June, although no one was injured in that accident.
Yoshihiko Yamada, a Tokai University marine science professor, stated the boat was prone to have run aground after it was tossed round in excessive waves and broken, flooded and possibly sank. A tour boat of that dimension often doesn’t carry a life boat, and passengers probably couldn’t escape a quickly sinking vessel with its home windows probably closed to protect them from sturdy winds.
In an interview with TBS tv, Yamada stated there was additionally a slight chance the boat may have been hit by a whale.
The chilly temperature and robust wind may trigger hypothermia and put the passengers in extreme circumstances for survival, in response to Jun Abe, vice chairman of the Society of Water Rescue and Survival Research. “It’s a very severe condition especially when they are wet,” Abe informed TBS.
According to the operator’s web site, the tour takes round three hours and provides scenic views of the western coast of the peninsula and consists of potential sightings of animals corresponding to whales, dolphins and brown bears. The nationwide park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage website and is known because the southernmost area to see drifting sea ice.