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Shipwreck in Japan: 10 confirmed dead out of the 26 passengers on the boat

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Ten people were found dead on Sunday April 24 after a tourist boat sank the day before in northern Japan where the waters were cold and choppy. Sixteen other people are still missing this morning.

Despite forecasted bad weather, the “Kazu I” set sail on Saturday morning to sail along a side of the Shiretoko Peninsula, a preserved natural area northeast of the large northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The crew had sent out a distress call at 1:13 p.m. local time (0413 GMT), reporting that the boat was sinking, with its bow tilted at 30 degrees.

The coastguard arrived on the scene only after three hours and an intense search has been going on ever since. The police, Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and local fishermen are also taking part in the operations, both by sea and by air.

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Two children were on board

Aerial footage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed a helicopter and patrol boats exploring the edge of the peninsula, as well as rescuers on shore scanning a very rugged shoreline, with high waves crashing in full of foam against large rocks.

Other Coast Guard footage showed rescue workers inspecting crevices on the coast and some items marked with the inscription “Kazu I” washed up on the shore.

The boat was carrying two crew members and 24 passengers, including two children. All were wearing life jackets. But the waters in the region are currently very cold, with a temperature of just two or three degrees during the day, and the coast is still icy in places.

The boat had already experienced damage

The sea was also rough at the time of the accident: fishing boats in the vicinity had returned to port before Saturday noon due to high waves and strong wind, according to a local fishing cooperative quoted by the agency. of Japanese press Kyodo. “It was expected that the waves would get higher and higher. I would not have taken to the sea in these conditions,” a person from the same local tourist sector told Kyodo on Saturday.

Eya Guezguez had participated in the Tokyo Olympics with her twin sister.

The Kazu I had already suffered damage during an excursion last June, hitting shallows near its home port, according to Japanese media. This incident had not injured anyone but had earned a police investigation targeting the captain of the boat for negligence.

The Shiretoko Peninsula is an important tourist attraction in Hokkaido. The natural site has been classified since 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

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