SAPPORO – Fourteen fishermen went missing after their boat capsized Monday morning in the Pacific Ocean off the town of Urakawa in southern Hokkaido, the Japan Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard said the 160-ton No. 5 Ryuho Maru, manned by a crew of 18, capsized at around 6:20 some 30 km south of Urakawa while catching Alaskan pollack.
Four members of the crew were rescued by another fishing boat operating nearby, but the 14 others, including the skipper, Hiroyuki Ikabe, 37, disappeared.
The Coast Guard sent six patrol boats and two aircraft to the area to search for the missing crew.
According to the Urakawa Fire Station, three of the four rescued were in good condition, but Kiyohiko Fujimaki, 47, was in serious condition apparently because he swallowed a large amount of what appeared to be heavy fuel oil from the boat.
The No. 5 Ryuho Maru, owned by Urakawa-based Matsui Marine Products Co., left port around midnight Sunday.
The Ogifushi Fishery Cooperative said skies were overcast but waves were calm when the Ryuho Maru capsized and sank. It also said it presumed the boat flipped because of a shift in its balance while it was drawing in nets.
Families of the missing were increasingly worried and irritated about a lack of information.
The mother of the boat’s skipper said at her home in Urakawa that she is in a confused panic and knows nothing. The 37-year-old wife of crew member Keiji Uchiyama, 43, said in tears that she received a telephone call at about 7 a.m. from the company saying the boat apparently sank. She said she does not have any more information.
Woman drowns in ocean
One woman drowned and two are missing in three separate sea accidents in Tokushima, Shizuoka and Aomori prefectures Sunday.
In the Seto Inland Sea off Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture, a 6-meter-long yacht carrying three people capsized in high waves around 12:30 p.m., throwing them overboard, police said.
A male friend riding a jet ski nearby helped bring them in. Two sustained minor injuries, but the third, Megumi Taniguchi, 35, was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital.
In Shizuoka Prefecture, a motorboat with two men aboard overturned some 100 meters off the town of Arai at around 11:15 a.m.
One of the two — Akira Onda, 48 — disappeared, while Sumio Tsunoda, 44, a relative, swam some 500 meters to reach a breakwater. Tsunoda was rescued by police who flew to the scene by helicopter three hours later, they said.
The 7-meter-long motorboat capsized while the two were heading for Lake Hamana after fishing in the Pacific. There were high waves caused by the approaching Typhoon Saomai, police said.
In Aomori Prefecture, a small fishing boat overturned in the Pacific some 300 meters off Hashikami at around 11:40 a.m., and its sole crew member, Shigeru Kamaya, 65, disappeared, the Japan Coast Guard said.
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