Baku, April 25, AZERTAC
A child believed to be a 3-year-old girl was confirmed dead Monday, taking the death toll to 11 after a tourist boat with 26 passengers and crew aboard went missing in rough waters over the weekend off a World Heritage site on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, the coast guard and local officials said, according to Kyodo News.
Having dispatched aircraft and vessels, the Japan Coast Guard and Self-Defense Forces were continuing to search for the remaining 15 following the incident involving the 19-ton Kazu I.
Contact with the boat was lost after it reported that it was taking on water around 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
Seven men and three women were confirmed dead the next day. There were two children aboard the vessel.
According to the coast guard, the girl was found Sunday night in an unresponsive state in waters about 14 kilometers east of a lighthouse near the tip of Shiretoko Peninsula, a popular destination in the northeast of Hokkaido known for drift ice tours.
The coast guard said the child was likely to have drifted due to the wind and tide. According to officials in Shari, from where the boat departed, the girl was aboard with her parents who remain missing.
The coast guard and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said the 24 passengers ranged from under 10 to their 70s. All passengers and crew were believed to be wearing life jackets, but the girl was not wearing one when she was found.
The search continued through the night, expanding beyond the tip of the peninsula where many of the victims had been found. Nine of the 10 confirmed dead were found in the water or on nearby rocks around 10 km from where the boat issued its first rescue call.
Local fishing boats and tourist vessels have joined the search.
Suspecting that the boat may have sunk, searchers are using sonar to locate it.
The boat left port in Shari around 10 a.m. Saturday to cruise along the peninsula, designated as a World Natural Heritage site in 2005 and home to many rare species of animals and plants.
The vessel, crewed by 54-year-old captain Noriyuki Toyoda and a deckhand, told operator Shiretoko Yuransen that it was listing 30 degrees around 2 p.m., before contact was lost, according to the coast guard.
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