Tour boat carrying 26 missing people reportedly sank off Japan’s northern coast

A tour boat with 26 people on board went missing in choppy, cold waters off northern Japan on Saturday after making a distress call and reporting it was sinking, the coast guard said.

No survivors were found after more than seven hours of intense search involving six patrol boats and four aircraft.

The 17-ton Kazu 1 made an emergency call, indicating that the ship’s bow had been flooded and was beginning to sink and heel over as it moved off the west coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula, on the northern island of Hokkaido, the coast guard said.

The tour boat has since lost contact, according to the Coast Guard. He said the boat was carrying 24 passengers, including two children, and two crew members.

Freezing sea temperatures typical of April

Average April sea temperatures in Shiretoko National Park are just above freezing.

An official with the ship’s operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, said he could not comment because he had to take calls from worried families of passengers.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was attending a two-day water summit in Kumamoto, southern Japan, was canceling his schedule for Sunday and had to return to Tokyo to attend to the missing boat, the channel reported. NHK public.

High waves and strong winds were seen in the area around noon, according to a local fishing cooperative. Japanese media reported that the fishing boats had returned to port before noon due to bad weather.

NHK said there was a warning for high waves up to three meters high.

According to the operator’s website, the tour lasts about three hours and offers panoramic views of the peninsula’s west coast.

The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is famous as the southernmost area to see drifting sea ice.