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Coast Guard in Japan Confirms 10 Dead in Sightseeing Boat Sinking

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Coast Guard officials in Japan have confirmed at least 10 people are dead after a sightseeing boat sank in icy waters off the northeast coast. The search is continuing for 16 other missing passengers and crew.

In a statement from the Japanese coast guard, it was stated that the dead passengers found so far had been identified as seven men and three women.

After taking on water off Japan’s remote northeastern tip of Hokkaido on Saturday afternoon, the Kazu I sightseeing boat sent out a distress signal.

Search-and-rescue efforts began immediately, but the cold temperatures in the area began to dim hopes for 26 people, including two children and two crew members.

In spite of high winds and waves that prompted even some local fishing boats to return to shore due to the worsening conditions, the boat carried out a sightseeing cruise on Saturday morning.

Around 1:15 pm on Saturday, the boat issued a distress call, and coast guard helicopters and vessels responded several hours later.

Coast Guard finds survivors

However, with the air temperature dropping to around zero degrees Celsius by nightfall, neither the boat nor those insides were found. This is despite the fact that the search continued overnight with infrared and thermal equipment.

Japanese Self Defense Forces and coast guard academy cadets joined the rescue operation, and four passengers from the boat were located early on Sunday, with six more being rescued in the afternoon.

Rescue workers searched the rugged coastline as waves crashed into the shorelines. The bodies of some of the passengers were found in the water, while others were discovered along the rugged shoreline.

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Several images released by the coast guard showed rescuers crouched in a crevice along the rocky shoreline inspecting an area and items clearly marked Kazu I washed up on a beach, with ice still visible in the water.

So far, those who have been rescued have been taken to hospitals, while the Japan Broadcasting Corporation showed images of one person being transferred from a helicopter into an ambulance with officials holding up a blanket to obscure their identity.

As reported by the coast guard in Japan, the Kazu I ran aground in shallow water last June, leaving 21 passengers and two crew members stranded.

Despite leaving the shallow waters on its own and returning to the harbor, the vessel’s captain was investigated for endangering traffic by negligent business practices.

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