Japan Coast Guard is searching for a tour boat off Hokkaido that said it took on water

A sightseeing boat with 26 people on board, including two children, lost contact after reporting it was taking on water off eastern Hokkaido on Saturday, the Japanese Coast Guard said.

A helicopter and patrol boats were dispatched to the site near the Shiretoko Peninsula to implement a rescue. The Coast Guard, which received the report around 1.15pm, said it had not found the boat, named Kazu 1, or the people on board by 5.30pm.

The boat, with a crew of two, reported to its operator that it was heeling 30 degrees around 3 p.m. before losing contact, the JCG said.

High waves and strong winds were seen in the area around noon, according to the local fishing cooperative. His fishing boats returned to port before noon due to bad weather, he said.

Shiretoko Peninsula in Hokkaido | GOOGLE MAPS

The peninsula northeast of Hokkaido is known as a popular destination for spotting drifting ice and was designated a World Natural Heritage Site in 2005. It is a habitat for many rare species of animals and plants.

The boat was sailing off Kashuni Falls, a famous scenic spot near the tip of the peninsula, when the coast guard received the report, he said.

The boat can accommodate up to 65 people, according to its operator’s website.

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