A tourist boat with about 30 people on board disappears in Japan

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A tourist boat with about 30 people on board disappeared in northern Japan on Saturday after it was reported sinking according to local media, and the coast guard launched a search.

A local coast guard official told AFP that a relief mission was under way, but could not immediately give further details.

According to the Japanese public television network NHK, the crew of the “Kazu 1” warned the coast guard that the ship was sinking while off the Shiretoko Peninsula, a remote natural site declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in northeast of the island of Hokkaido (northern Japan).

Contact with the boat was subsequently lost and search helicopters did not reach the area until four hours after the distress call.

The crew and passengers were wearing life jackets, according to NHK.

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