Search Continued for 12 People Aboard Sunken Tour Boat


Shari, Hokkaido, May 5 (Jiji Press)--The Japan Coast Guard's 1st Regional Coast Guard Headquarters and others continued their search Thursday for the 12 missing people aboard the Kazu I tour boat, which sank off the Shiretoko Peninsula in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido late last month.

The search involved the use of aircraft, ships and an underwater camera. But no clues linked to the missing people were discovered.

Meanwhile, Japan has agreed with Russia that part of the waters around Kunashiri, one of the four Russian-controlled northwestern Pacific islands at the center of the two countries' long-standing territorial dispute, will be searched by the Japanese side. Based on the accord, the JCG started searching the area on Thursday afternoon. Kunashiri is closest to the Shiretoko Peninsula among the four disputed islands.

On Tuesday, an underwater camera of the Hokkaido police department entered the sunken sightseeing boat and captured images of objects such as seats. But the camera stopped moving and became irrecoverable later. The cable for the camera may have got caught in something inside the Kazu I, according to the regional coast guard headquarters.

The JCG has questioned Seiichi Katsurada, 58-year-old president of Shiretoko Yuransen, the operator of the Kazu I, on a voluntary basis. The coast guard also raided locations related to the tour boat operator based in the Hokkaido town of Shari on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death, investigating the company's possible fault in safety management by examining seized materials.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press