Japan intensifies search for missing tour boat with 26 on board

By David Dolan

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The Shiretoko Peninsula of Hokkaido, Japan, is pictured in this photo taken by Kyodo on September 25, 2021. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

OKYO, April 23 (Reuters) – Japan’s coast guard used aircraft and patrol boats on Saturday to search for a tour boat with 26 people on board after it sent word it was in trouble off the northern island of Hokkaido, a coast guard official said.

The coast guard heard from the crew of the “Kazu I” at around 1:15 p.m. (0415 GMT) that water was flooding into the vessel, the official said. The boat had been on a sightseeing cruise around the Shiretoko Peninsula, which is famous for its wildlife and dramatic coastline.

The ship was last heard from at around 3 p.m. when it contacted its operating company to say it was keeling at a 30-degree angle, news agency Kyodo 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.

No one answered calls to the office of the company that runs the Kazu I’s sightseeing tours.

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