A 10-year-old girl drowned on Tuesday after she and three friends were swept away while playing in the Tokachi River in Otofune Town near Obihiro City. The dead girl was identified as Azuka Manabe.
According to Obihiro Police, Manabe and three friends from her soccer club and their families, had come to the area to enjoy the Golden Week vacation. The four children were completely clothed while playing about six meters from the shore in an area where the riverbed suddenly drops off.
The children were swept away about 1:45 p.m. One child was able to swim to the shore, while the remaining three were swept downstream 50 to 500 meters before help arrived. By the time Manabe was rescued, she was already unconscious, and confirmed dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Immediately after the incident, a 35-year-old Obihiro City resident who witnessed the event said, "There were several fire trucks parked on the riverbank and it was just chaos... it was really shocking." The man commented that, while water levels were higher than normal because of all the melted snow, "It didn't seem really dangerous out there. It's sad, because there's never been an accident like that around here before."
According to the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau Obihiro Rivers Office, water levels on the Tokachi River had begun to rise in mid-April. Levels on Tuesday were 26 centimeters higher than they were on April 28.
The incident occurred in a hot springs tourist area about 10 kilometers east of JR Obihiro Station on the Nemuro Line.© News reports