Three crewmen die after trawler fire off Kochi


Three crew members of a tuna boat were confirmed dead Monday after their trawler caught fire in the Pacific on Sunday, Coast Guard officials said.

The three, found earlier in the day, were identified as skipper Naohiro Matsuoka, 66, and chief engineer Manabu Ichihara, 54, both Japanese, and Yosan Safii, 30, from Indonesia. They were all in cardiopulmonary arrest when spotted floating 460 km from Cape Murotomisaki in Kochi Prefecture, the officials said.

There were seven people aboard the tuna boat Kaisei Maru No. 8, including five Indonesians aged 30 to 45 years old.

According to Coast Guard officials, the skipper and the two crewmen were found floating 50 km south of the area where the fire was initially reported.

The fire aboard the Kaisei Maru No. 8 had been raging for several hours since Sunday morning. Coast Guard patrol vessels arrived at the scene of the fire that night and continued searching for the missing crew overnight.

A fuel slick 500 meters long and 100 meters wide was spotted near the scene of the accident, prompting officials to extend the search area.

The Japan Transport Safety Board appointed two investigators Monday to identify the cause of the accident.

The Kaisei Maru No. 8 was due to enter port in Katsuura in nearby Wakayama Prefecture by Tuesday.