Firefighters and police officers transport rescued people from the missing tour boat "Kazu 1" from Japanese Self-Defence Force's helicopters in Shari, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on April 24, 2022. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

Japan: Ten people have died after tour boat sank – and 16 others still missing, coastguard confirms | World News

Ten people who were on board a tour boat that sunk off Japan’s coast are confirmed to have died, while 16 others are still missing.

The 19-ton Kazu 1 disappeared on Saturday afternoon with 26 people on board during a cruise off the main northern island of Hokkaido.

The country’s coastguard has said the 10 were found in the Shiretoko Peninsula and taken to hospital, but they did not survive.

Average sea temperatures in Shiretoko National Park at this time of year are just above freezing.

The tour boat was traveling off the western coast of Shiretoko Peninsula, in the northern island of Hokkaido. Peak: AP

The location is known as a difficult place to maneuver boats because of its rocky coastline and the same tour boat had an accident there last year.

An orange-coloured, square-shaped lifesaving float with the boat’s name on it was also seen on the rocky coast.

The boat carrying 24 passengers, including two children, and two crew members had gone missing after sending a distress call on Saturday, saying it took on water and was beginning to sink.

The crew said those on board were wearing life jackets and the boat was keeling at a 30-degree angle.

Sunday’s rescue came after nearly 19 hours of intense search involving six patrol boats, several aircraft and divers. The coastguard said the search continued through the night.

High waves and strong winds were seen in the area around 12pm on Saturday, a local fisheries cooperative said.

Local media said fishing boats had returned to port before noon because of the bad weather.

NHK said there was a warning for waves up to three meters (nearly 10ft) high.

Map showing location of missing boat

Yoshihiko Yamada, a marine science professor at Tokai University, said the boat was likely to have run aground after it was thrown around by the high waves, then damaged and flooded, before probably sinking.

The academic also said there was a small chance the boat might have been hit by a whale.

The operator’s website said the tour takes about three hours and offers a scenic view of the western coast of the peninsula, including animals such as whales, dolphins and brown bears.

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