Two die as waves sweep 17 off Atami breakwater


Two men died Sunday after at least 17 anglers and bystanders were snatched off a breakwater by high waves at Atami port in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, police and firefighters said.

The anglers and bystanders fell into the water after being hit by the waves around 8:30 a.m. Fishing boats in the vicinity rescued 17 from the sea, and eight of them were taken to a hospital. Two of the 17 died, according to police.

The dead were identified as Masaaki Ito, a 50-year-old resident of Kawasaki, and Shoji Arai, a 40-year-old man from Zushi.

Six others received medical treatment. Among them, a man and a woman suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries, they added.

According to the Japan Coast Guard, 14 of those plucked from the sea are male and three are female. Three children are among the 17.

Local police and firefighters dispatched patrol vessels and helicopters to confirm whether there were any other victims still adrift in the sea.

Though the weather was fair, the local meteorological observatory issued a high-wave advisory for the Izu area, including the port of Atami, due to an approaching typhoon.

The breakwater is some 1.5 km south of JR Atami Station. It is frequented by anglers, especially on weekends, according to locals.

According to witnesses and those rescued, waves of some 4 to 5 meters crashed over the people on the breakwater as most of them were facing inland.

Many were dragged out some 50 meters from shore as they clung to cooler boxes and other flotsam for about 10 minutes.

A passenger ship that noticed what had happened radioed for assistance, and several fishing boats in the area arrived at the scene to help.

Fishing boat capsizes

TSU, Mie Pref. (Kyodo) Two people died and one went missing Sunday when a fishing boat capsized in waters off the town of Shima, Mie Prefecture, the Japan Coast Guard said.

The boat carrying Yutaka Yamazaki, his wife Mitsu, both 76, and their son Yoshiki, 50, capsized at around 6 a.m. due to high waves. All three were thrown into the water.

The couple were rescued shortly and taken to a hospital, but were later pronounced dead, the coast guard said. The search was still on for the son.

According to police, the three had gone out in the morning to fish for lobster.