Kyodo News reports that 10 of the 26 passengers were discovered to be floating in the water or on nearby rocks, about 6.2 miles from where the vessel first called for help. The tourist boat was on an excursion near a World Heritage site on the island, Hokkaido. Seven of those who were found dead are men and three are women.
The Japan Coast Guard and Self-Defense forces are still looking for the 16 others who are missing from the Kazu 1, which went missing at around 1:15 p.m. on Saturday after leaving at 10 a.m. that morning. The boat’s passengers included two kids, with people as young as 10 and up to 70 years old on the boat. When the Kazu 1 made its distress call, the captain and deckhand said that the vessel was sinking and the bow had flooded. It’s thought that everyone on the boat was wearing life jackets.
“We have been receiving a lot of calls from the passengers’ families. We have to handle it first,” a company spokesman for Shiretoko Pleasure Cruiser told Kyodo News.
However, it’s said that the water in the area is just above freezing and that there is drift ice. The area is known for whale activity, and a whale could have hit the boat. Saturday’s weather conditions were also not favorable.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told his cabinet to “do everything in their power to save lives,” per the Japan Times.