Tokyo, May 26 (IANS) Attempts to raise a sunken tourist boat off Japan’s Hokkaido resumed on Thursday for a second time after the initial attempt failed and brought the vessel back on the sea bed.
The boat Kazu I carrying 26 people sank off Hokkaido on April 23 after making a distress call saying it was taking on water in rough seas, leaving 14 people dead and 12 missing, reports Xinhua news agency.
The salvage team also utilized the Nippon Salvage Co. hired by the Japan Coast Guard.
They restarted the operation to raise the 19-ton Kazu I, which is residing on the seabed around 180 metres below the surface, and if the mission is successful the boat will be brought to the surface at some point later today.
Local reports said the belts used to wrap around the boat are more robust than those used before.
The initial attempt saw the boat drop back to the seabed on Tuesday while it was being towed to shallow waters after it was raised to a depth of around 20 metres.
The company, however, is hoping that once the boat is raised from the seabed it will be drained at a local port for several days for further investigations.
The government has been in talks with Russian authorities after two bodies were found washed up on Kunashiri, one of the southern Kuril Islands disputed by Tokyo and Moscow.
The bodies may have been those from the missing tour boat.
Coast Guard officials plan to keep communicating with the Russian side to identify recently found bodies, local accounts said.
The Russian Coast Guard has agreed to allow Japanese vessels into the area in line with the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, a bilateral accord on maritime accidents inked between the two countries.