Tokyo, Apr 23 (EFE).- Japanese maritime authorities on Sunday located seven of the 26 passengers aboard a tour boat that disappeared the previous day in the north of the country after sending a mayday call saying that it was sinking.
The seven people were found early Sunday after overnight search and rescue efforts in the waters around the Shiretoko Peninsula, in the eastern part of the northern island of Hokkaido.
At least four were taken unconscious to the hospital and no further details have been provided at the moment about their condition, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.
The vessel, Kazu 1, sent a distress message to the Coast Guard around 1:15 pm on Saturday asking for help because the ship’s bow was flooded and it was sinking.
Coastal authorities deployed six patrol boats and four helicopters shortly after losing contact with the ship but until nightfall no trace of the passengers or the vessel had been found.
The Self-Defense Forces (Japanese army) joined the rescue efforts, which are ongoing.
Out of the 26 people traveling on the ship, 24 were passengers, including two minors, in addition to the captain and a deck crew member.
According to the company that operated the boat, which had a capacity of 65 people, the Kazu 1 was scheduled to depart from the port of Utorohigashi, in the city of Shari, at 10 am and sail around Cape Shiretoko, where it offers tours, before returning around 1 pm.
The incident occurred while the ship was in waters near the Kashuni Falls, a famous site near the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
The sea had been choppy in the area the day before and the Japan Meteorological Agency had issued an alert for strong winds and high waves with waves of between 3 or 4 meters 10-13 feet) in that region.
The Kazu 1 also had an accident in June 2021 when it was stranded in shallow waters after setting sail.
None of the 23 people on board were injured during the incident. EFE