NIIGATA – Eighty people were injured Saturday after a jetfoil ferry apparently hit a marine animal off Sado Island in the Sea of Japan, according to the Japan Coast Guard. Thirteen people sustained serious injuries, the coast guard said.
The collision at around 12:15 p.m. did not prevent the jetfoil from reaching its destination on Sado Island, according to ferry operator Sado Steam Ship Co. A 15-cm crack was found at the stern.
Coast guard officials are investigating the cause of the incident. The vessel may have hit a whale or some other creature, they said.
The vessel, carrying 121 passengers and four crew, had left Niigata Port at 11:30 a.m. It arrived at Ryotsu Port at around 1:30 p.m.
Crew members call on passengers to wear seat belts before departure as well as when the vessel is sailing, Sado Steam Ship said.
The boat, propelled by a high pressure jet of seawater, operates at a speed of 80 kph, connecting Niigata and Ryotsu ports in about an hour. Its hydrofoil wings were also damaged in the collision.
“After the sound of a bang … my throat hit the seat in front of me. People around me were moaning (because of pain),” one of the passengers told reporters.