NIIGATA – Five people including three children died after being swept out to sea Sunday afternoon from a beach in Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, local police said.
The police said an emergency call for help rescuing three children at the beach was received around 1:45 p.m. Two adults who rushed into the sea to rescue them were also swept away, witnesses said.
The five were later identified as Yuichi Hirata, 38, of Nagano Prefecture; his 6-year-old daughter Kureha and his 9-year-old and 6-year-old nephews; and Mitsuru Nagayama, 27, who is believed to have been visiting the area to fish, the police said.
The three children were playing on the beach by chasing and running away from the waves. They were then hit by a sudden big wave that swept them into the sea, said a local resident who was there at the time.
The beach has not been authorized by the local government as one suitable for swimming.
According to police, the body of a child was retrieved from about 10 meters from the shore.
The Hirata family, who lived in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, left home at around 9:30 a.m. and arrived at the beach at 1 p.m. to spend the day. But residents said the surf grew stronger in the early afternoon.
The meteorological observatory in Niigata issued had warnings for high tide and strong winds on Saturday, but lifted them early Sunday.