Salvaged Hokkaido Sightseeing Boat Choked From Barge Ahead of Inspection

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A tourist boat that was recovered after sinking in waters off Hokkaido was lifted from the barge that carried it to port on Wednesday and transported for further investigation into the crash that killed 14 people and left 12 others missing.

After being craned off the barge at Abashiri Port, the 19-ton Kazu I was loaded onto a large truck and taken to a facility several hundred meters away.

The sunken tour boat Kazu I, covered with a blue tarpaulin, is brought ashore at Abashiri Port in Hokkaido, northern Japan, June 1, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Later today, families of those killed or lost in the accident off Japan’s northernmost main island will have a chance to view the ship and lay flowers for their loved ones.

The boat, which sank in bad weather while on a sightseeing cruise off the Shiretoko Peninsula on April 23, the first day of the tourist season, was positioned on the deck of the barge on Friday after being brought to the surface by Nippon Salvage Co.

The Japanese Coast Guard will now examine the underside of the boat in hopes of making progress in determining the cause of the accident.

The Coast Guard, Maritime Self-Defense Force, Hokkaido Prefectural Police, local fishermen and other tourist boat operators searched for three days until Tuesday, but the search ended without finding any trace of the 12 missing people, including two of the ship’s crew.

The coastguard will continue the search on their own, he said.

The boat with 26 people on board disappeared after departing for a scheduled three-hour cruise around the peninsula, a World Natural Heritage Site, despite poor weather forecasts and warnings.

The Department of Transport said on May 24 that it intended to revoke the boat operator’s license in June, after confirming violations of 17 safety rules. This would be the toughest administrative penalty ever imposed under the Shipping Act.

The sunken tour boat Kazu I, covered with a blue tarpaulin, is brought ashore at Abashiri Port in Hokkaido, northern Japan, June 1, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows the sunken tour boat Kazu I, covered in a blue tarpaulin, being transported on a large truck in the Hokkaido city of Abashiri, northern Japan, to a storage facility June 1, 2022. The boat was recovered after sinking in late April with 26 people on board while cruising around the Shiretoko Peninsula and will be examined to determine the cause of the fatal incident. (Kyōdo) == Kyōdo

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