• Kyodo

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The bodies found inside the burned hulk of a tanker that erupted in flames after colliding with another ship last week were confirmed to be those of the five missing crew members, Japan Coast Guard officials said Monday.

The bodies were found Sunday after the coast guard’s special rescue personnel combed through the 697-ton Kyokuyo Maru after the blaze had been extinguished.

The dead were identified as Capt. Genichi Sato, 55; Chief Mate Kikuji Okita, 57; Second Mate Sadao Ueda, 56; Chief Engineer Kinjiro Furukawa, 53; and First Engineer Yoshikatsu Yanai, 55.

Another crewman was confirmed dead Friday, the day the collision with the 499-ton tanker in waters off Mie Prefecture occurred, while the seventh, who was rescued soon after the accident, suffered serious burns.

Also Monday, the president of Nanyo Kaiun, the Tokyo-based maritime shipping firm that owned the Kyokuyo Maru, expressed regret for not having been able to return six of the seven crewmen crew back to their families safely.

Speaking at a news conference at the Owase Coast Guard Office in Mie Prefecture, Satoshi Sakama said the families of the five were shown the retrieved bodies earlier in the day.

“When they saw (the bodies) they were in very deep sorrow,” he said.

The families later took a boat to near where the collision occurred to make flower offerings.

Meanwhile, coast guard officials said Monday that of the 10 tanks of benzine aboard the Kyokuyo Maru at the time of the accident, two had broken and their contents had spilled.

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