Divers start salvaging Hokkaido tour boat a month after sinking

Divers began their rescue operations on Monday from a tourist boat that sank off Hokkaido, leaving 14 dead and 12 missing, exactly one month after the incident.

Nippon Salvage Co., a company commissioned by the Japanese Coast Guard, began lifting operations of the 19-ton Kazu I about 120 meters below the surface.

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on May 23, 2022 shows the barge Kaishin as the large-scale operation began the same day to rescue a sunken boat on the seabed about 120 meters below the water surface at the off the Shiretoko Peninsula on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaidō. The Kazu I tour boat disappeared on April 23 with 26 people on board. (Kyōdo) == Kyōdo

The boat, which disappeared off the Shiretoko peninsula on April 23, is to be hoisted onto a barge with a crane on Tuesday. It will then be transported to a nearby port in the hope that the authorities can discover the cause of the accident. The Coast Guard continues to search for the missing using patrol vessels and other means.

After the crane loads the boat onto the barge, it will take several days to drain the seawater from the vessel before it is unloaded at Abashiri Port.

Deep-sea divers completed their two-day search inside the boat last week, finding no trace of the 12 people still missing.

The whole operation is expected to cost around 140 million yen ($1 million).

Japan is exchanging information with Russian authorities after two bodies, possibly missing, were found stranded on Kunashiri Island, one of the Russian-controlled and Japanese-claimed islands near Hokkaido.

A Japanese driver’s license was found near one of the bodies, leading authorities to suspect it could be a 27-year-old deckhand, the coast guard said. The body of a woman was discovered on May 6.

Photo taken on April 29, 2022 by the Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper Izushima shows the sunken tourist boat Kazu I off the Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido, northern Japan. (Photo courtesy of 1st Regional Coast Guard Headquarters) (Kyodo)

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