Inquiries start into disappearance of Japan tourist boat

Inquiries began into what caused the disappearance of a Japanese tour boat off the nation’s northern coast as search efforts intensified on Monday to find the boat and its missing passengers, with the confirmed death toll rising to 11.

So far nothing has been found of the ship, the “Kazu I,” which left harbor on Saturday on one of the sightseeing trips for which the northern Shiretoko peninsula is famous carrying 24 passengers, including 2 children, and two crew members. Only a few orange flotation devices bearing its name have been discovered adrift by a rocky area along the rugged coastline.

Searching resumed on Monday using aircraft and patrol boats, with media saying local fishing boats from the port of Utoro had also been mobilized. Searchers also walked steep cliffs along the shoreline.

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The Transport Ministry sent officials to the site on Sunday to coordinate operations, and Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito also visited, calling for every possible measure to be taken in determining what went wrong and preventing a recurrence.

“Our duty is to find out exactly what happened,” a Transport Ministry investigator told reporters at the site on Monday.

According to media reports, waves were high in the area on Saturday and fishing boats that departed early in the morning returned to port quickly because of the conditions at sea.

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