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Ten dead were found after a Japanese cruise ship with 26 on board sank

The search for the others continues after the ship made an emergency call on Saturday afternoon to sink. The place near Kashuni Waterfall is known as a difficult place for maneuvering boats due to the rocky coast and strong tide.

The 17-ton Kazu 1 had two crews and 24 passengers, including two children, when he got into trouble traveling off the west coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula. The Coast Guard said 10 victims – seven men and three women – were adults.

This aerial image shows a rescuer being lifted during a search operation for missing passengers and crew members of a sunken cruise ship off the Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan. (AP)

The Ministry of Transport has launched an investigation into the operator of the ship, which had two accidents last year. The ministry said it was dealing with safety standards and the decision to conduct a search despite the unfavorable weather on Saturday.

The operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruise, was instructed to take steps to improve its safety following previous accidents in which it ran aground in June without causing injury and another in May, when three passengers suffered minor injuries when the ship collided with subject.

“We will thoroughly investigate what caused this situation and what kind of security surveillance was used to allow the search to prevent another accident,” Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito, who visited the area on Sunday, told reporters.

This photo, published by the 1st Regional Command of the Japanese Coast Guard, shows an orange-colored square-shaped rescue float with the name of a missing cruise ship near the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan. (AP)

After an intensive search involving six patrol boats, several planes and divers that passed through the night, rescuers found four people early on Sunday near the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula and later six others in the same area, about 14 kilometers north of where the boat sent. emergency call. Some of them were torn from the sea, while others were washed up on the rocky shore.

An orange square rescue float with the name of the ship was also found near the rocks, the Coast Guard said.

Footage of the public station NHK showed how one of the victims arrived by helicopter and was transferred to an ambulance on a stretcher. Rescuers raised blue plastic shields to protect the victim’s privacy.

The sightseeing vessel made an emergency call early Saturday afternoon, saying that its bow had flooded and that it was beginning to dive and tilt, the Coast Guard said. Contact with the ship has since been lost. The Coast Guard said the operator had told them everyone on the ship was wearing a life jacket, but some of the victims were without them.

The average April sea temperatures in Shiretoko National Park are just above freezing, which experts say would cause hypothermia.

Rescuers are conducting a search operation in the waters near the Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan. (AP)

“It’s a very serious situation, especially when they’re wet,” Jun Abe, vice president of the Society for Water Rescue and Survival Research, told TBS TV.

Yoshihiko Yamada, a professor of marine science at the University of Tokyo, said the ship probably ran aground after being tossed in high waves and damaged. A ship of this size usually doesn’t carry a lifeboat, he said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida suspended his participation in a two-day summit in Kumamoto in southern Japan and returned to Tokyo. He told reporters early on Sunday that he had ordered officials “to do everything they could to save them.”

This aerial image shows the waters where rescuers continue to search for passengers on a missing cruise boat off the Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Japan. (AP)

The cause of the disaster is under investigation, but officials and experts suspect security negligence.

When the boat sailed, high waves and strong winds were predicted, and according to Japanese media, the fishing boats returned to port before noon on Saturday due to bad weather.

The crew of a cruise ship belonging to another operator told the NHK that it had warned the crew of Kazu 1 of the stormy sea and told them not to drive. He also said that the same ship ran aground last year and suffered a crack in the bow.

Rescuers are attended by people found on a rocky area near the tip of the Shiretoko Peninsula in northern Hokkaido, Japan. (AP)

Saturday’s tour was reportedly the first operator this season, and an accident just before Japan’s Golden Week holiday, which began in late April, could dampen local tourism, which plunged during the pandemic. Japan is still largely closed to foreign visitors.

Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki told reporters on Sunday that he planned to ask tour operators in the prefecture for security checks before the holidays.

According to the operator’s website, the tour lasts about three hours and offers scenic views of the west coast of the peninsula and the opportunity to see whales, dolphins and brown bears. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known as the southernmost region where drifting sea ice can be seen.