Tuesday, June 24, 2008
A Japanese fishing boat capsized and sank off the country's eastern coast Monday, leaving four crew members dead and 13 missing, Coast Guard officials said. Three other men on the Suwa Maru No. 58 were rescued by crew from four other fishing boats, Coast Guard spokesman Munekazu Yoshida said. The conditions of the rescued men were not immediately known, he added. Yoshida said all the crew members were Japanese. The Coast Guard has dispatched five patrol vessels and two aircraft to join the rescue effort at the accident site about 215 miles east of Cape Inubo in Chiba prefecture (state). Yoshida did not know what caused the accident.
Suwa Maru No. 58Mitsuo Sugiyama, Captain of an accompanying trawler, said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK that the vessel capsized because high waves crashed into it. "It was not impossible to operate, but sort of a borderline situation," Sugiyama said. "Sometimes we were washed by heavy swells as high as 4 meters (13 feet)." In a phone call to his father in the northern town of Iwaki, 20-year-old deckhand Susumu Nitta - one of the three who was rescued - said the vessel capsized and sank after a 50-foot-high wave struck its side, NHK reported. Fighting back tears, the ship's owner Tetsu Nozaki said he had only received sketchy details of the incident. "I'm praying that all the missing crewmen are found alive and come home safely," Nozaki said in a televised news conference from his office in the northern port of Onahama.