Japanese emergency workers today confirmed the death of a boy after a tourist boat capsized in the icy and choppy waters of northern Japan on Saturday, bringing the death toll from the tragedy to 11.
On Sunday morning, authorities announced the deaths of 10 people. Hours later, the Coast Guard announced that it had found a boy, who was confirmed dead on Monday.
The first ten fatal victims are seven men and three women.
Despite the predicted bad weather, the Kazu I boat set sail on Saturday morning with 26 people aboard for a tour of the Shiretoko peninsula, a World Heritage Site for its unspoiled nature northeast of the large Japanese island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan. .
“It was obvious that the situation at sea was going to get worse and I told them not to leave,” the operator of another tourist boat told NHK television. “In spite of everything, they left.”
The “Kazu 1” sent a distress call at 1:15 pm (03:15 GMT) on Saturday and warned that it was sinking, with one part inclined at 30 degrees.
The Coast Guard only arrived at the wreck site after three hours and is now participating in the search with the support of police and military helicopters and local fishing vessels.
National television NHK showed footage of a helicopter and patrol boats surveying the area, as well as shore lifeguards surveying a very rugged coastline, with high waves crashing against the rocks.
The vessel was carrying 24 passengers, including two children, as well as two crew.
All were wearing life jackets, but the water temperature during the day was two to three degrees Celsius and indeed some fishing boats returned to port early due to bad weather, according to local reports.
“It was predicted that the waves would get higher and higher. I would not have gone out to sea in these conditions”, assured a person from the local tourism sector to the Kyodo agency on Saturday.
The Kazu I had already suffered an accident during an excursion last June, when it hit the seabed near the port it uses as its base, according to Japanese media.
The incident caused no injuries, but an investigation was opened by the police against the boat’s captain for negligence.
UNESCO declared the Shiretoko Peninsula a World Heritage Site in 2005 for its distinctive wildlife, including the endangered Steller’s Sea Lion, as well as migratory birds and grizzly bears.
Sightseeing boats are popular in the area with visitors coming to see whales, birds and other wildlife.