• Kyodo

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A 6-year-old boy and his parents are feared drowned in the Akashi Strait off Kobe in a botched attempt Sunday to rescue the boy, police said.

The family, including an 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old boy, were in a motorboat when 6-year-old Masaharu fell out around noon Sunday.

Ikuya Oura, 37, a company president from Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, dived into the water to rescue the boy but soon got into trouble himself. His wife, Akiyo, 32, threw in a life preserver, told the other children to stay put and dived in herself, according to police, who found 12 unused life preservers aboard the 5.6-ton pleasure boat.

The boat, with third-grader Yuriko and her youngest brother, Yoshinori, was carried away by the tide as the parents were trying to rescue Masaharu.

Yuriko then piloted the boat to the nearby port of Akashi.

Toru Fujita, a 42-year-old company owner, found them in the boat near the port at 2:30 p.m. as he was fishing on a nearby breakwater.

He helped the girl dock the boat, and she reported the accident to police.

The Akashi Police Station took the girl and her brother into protective custody.

Yuriko reportedly told police that her father had taught her how to pilot the boat.

The family was on an octopus fishing outing when the accident occurred.

The family departed Harima Marina in Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture, at around 9 a.m. Sunday.

The Japan Coast Guard is using patrol vessels to search for the three.