A Hokkaido police helicopter searches for missing people from the Shiretoko pleasure boat crash around the tip of the Shiretoko peninsula in Hokkaido on April 28. (Kenji Notsu)
The sunken tourist boat Kazu I was found off Hokkaido’s Shiretoko peninsula on April 29 after three more bodies were recovered and another was spotted by a Russian patrol boat, sources said.
So far, 14 bodies have been recovered since the sinking of the pleasure boat after it left Shari, Hokkaido on April 23. The search and rescue mission continues for the 12 others who were on board the boat.
The Japanese Coast Guard said the tour boat, detected on April 28 by sonar used on a vessel involved in the search, was lying on the seabed about 120 meters deep. An underwater camera operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force confirmed that “KAZU I” was written on the ship.
The location was near the scenic Kashuni Falls on the western side of the peninsula, near where the Kazu I had made a distress call.
The three bodies found on April 28, all adult males, were recovered from the sea across the Shiretoko Peninsula near the town of Rausu, the Coast Guard’s regional maritime safety headquarters said. based in Otaru, Hokkaido.
An MSDF vessel recovered two of the bodies off the east coast of the peninsula after 4 p.m. on April 28, about 23.9 kilometers southeast of Cape Shiretoko, the coast guard said.
About an hour and 20 minutes later, a Hokkaido government ship found the third body in nearby water.
All three men were wearing life jackets.
It was the first time in four days that a missing person from the Kazu I had been found.
A local resident said currents flowing from the west side of the peninsula towards the southeast side collide with currents moving from the east side towards the north.
A helicopter believed to be carrying the three bodies arrived at an athletics ground in Shari in the evening.
The coastguard said on April 29 that the Russian border security authority had sent a fax to the coastguard headquarters in Otaru on the evening of April 28.
“A Russian patrol boat found a person adrift but could not get the (body) out due to bad weather and then lost sight of the person.”
The person, who was wearing a life jacket, was off the west coast of the Russian island of Kunashiri, located east of the Shiretoko peninsula, according to the coast guard.
The Russians recovered a backpack from the sea. The bag contained a bank card of a passenger from the Kazu I, whose body has already been found and identified, the coast guard said.