Tour boat with 26 on board sinks with 'no sign of survivors' after ship issued emergency distress call

Tour boat with 26 on board sinks with ‘no sign of survivors’ after ship issued emergency distress call

EMERGENCY crews are desperately searching for a tour boat which has sunk off the coast of Japan with no sign of the 26 passengers and crew on board.

The ship issued an emergency distress call claiming it was beginning to sink, but despite an eight-hour search, no one has yet been found.

It was cruising off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, near the scenic Kashuni Falls close to Shiretoko Peninsula when it issued the distress call.

The distress call was issued earlier on Saturday at 1.15pm local time (5.15am BST) to say that the 19-ton ship the Kazu1 had been flooded at the bow and was taking in water.

On board were 24 passengers – including two children – as well as two crew members.

An official of the vessel’s operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, said he could not comment as he had to respond to calls from worried families of the passengers.

High waves and strong winds were observed in the area around noon, according to a local fisheries cooperative. Japanese media reports said fishing boats had returned to port before noon because of the bad weather.

The NHK public broadcaster said there was a warning for high waves of up to 3 meters (9 feet) high.

According to the operator’s website, the tour takes about three hours and offers a scenic view of the western coast of the peninsula, including nature and animals such as whales, dolphins and the brown bear.

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