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Elementary school group rescued from sinking ship in western Japan

30 Comments

A small vessel carrying 62 people, mostly sixth-grade students on a school trip, sank Thursday in the sea off western Japan shortly after all aboard were rescued by Japan Coast Guard ships and nearby fishery boats, the coast guard said.

The 19-ton Shrimp of Art was carrying 52 children at the time of the accident, with two of the students and a 72-year-old tour guide taken to the hospital for hypothermia and hyperventilation upon being rescued, according to the Takamatsu Coast Guard Office in Kagawa Prefecture.

The female tour guide required minor treatment after having ingested sea water, while the students, one boy and one girl, returned home after warming up.

The group of children from Kawatsu Elementary School in Sakaide in the prefecture was in the midst of a two-day school excursion that started Wednesday and included a cruise in the Seto Inland Sea.

According to the office, the captain of the ship, which operated as a "sea taxi," contacted the coast guard at around 4:40 p.m., saying the vessel was taking in water after bumping into a floating object in the sea off Yoshima Island.

A local fire department also received a report from the coast guard office, saying "A ship carrying elementary school children is about to sink and they are believed to be floating in the sea, wearing life jackets."

All 62 people on board, including five teachers, two tour guides and three crew members, were rescued by around 5:50 p.m. before the vessel foundered.

After the accident, Toyohiro Shirakawa, principal of the elementary school, and others told a press conference that the vessel began to sink 10 minutes after striking the object.

Children were initially asked to stay on the ship's deck or rooftop, but later waited inside the inundated vessel, the teachers said.

According to the city education board, the 45-year-old captain told children to wear life jackets and jump into the sea. When coast guard ships arrived in the area, many of the children were already in the sea, while over 10 people remained on the vessel's rooftop.

Shirakawa said that although some had panicked, the children in the group were encouraging each other.

The local coast guard office plans to question the captain and other crew members to determine the cause of the accident.

© KYODO

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30 Comments
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Must have been very scary for those students, but the good news is they all survived.

18 ( +19 / -1 )

A lucky outcome for the group. Well done, captain.

0 ( +14 / -14 )

Shirakawa said that although some had panicked, the children in the group were encouraging each other.

Japanese kids are great for that.

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

"...after bumping into a floating object in the sea off Yoshima Island."

[Translation] The vessel sank after it crashed violently into a floating navigational buoy which is clearly marked on all nautical charts. The captain is now attempting to place the blame on a surfacing whale which disappeared after the accident.

5 ( +17 / -12 )

MAJOR tragedy averted. I can't imagine being a sixth grader and having to jump off a foundering vessel into the cold dark sea. Had to have been quite terrifying but great job by all involved. I wonder what the ship hit to make it sink like that?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I do not doubt an object being out there, there is a lot of things in the ocean, especially in this area.

My interest is in why was the vessel was doomed by it? Sounds like something intrinsic to the boat failed. Structure, pumps, training, etc.

Great job for all involved!

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I would expect this in the Philippines (it’s happened all too often) but

not in Japan (you would think).....NOW what do you think?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

@Strangeland

Japanese kids are great for that.

Yes that is true...I see that in my son's elementary school too.

If a kid can not probably follow or have problems with something, other kids helps and encourage he or she.

That is really nice to see!

I am happy that everyone on that ship survived.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Amazing rescue and outcome! I think the fact most Japanese elementary school kids are mature beyond their years, and strong swimmers, kept the situation calm.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

[Translation] The vessel sank after it crashed violently into a floating navigational buoy which is clearly marked on all nautical charts. The captain is now attempting to place the blame on a surfacing whale which disappeared after the accident.

There is all kinds of stuff floating in the ocean. A navigation buoy is not going to sink that and I am sure the captain knew the waters well.

It is great to hear that this had a happy outcome but those on board must have been terrified.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Glad to hear they all survived. Kids learn how to swim in school but water must be cold there.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

They all survived a fearful experience.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Luckily all are safe. Rescue services did a great job.

That's the same area as the horrendous tragedy of the sinking of the Shiun Maru ferry in 1955 which resulted in the deaths of over 150 school kids. No one in these parts forgets that. So the news yesterday of the incident must have shocked a lot of people.

One concern from the article - perhaps limited info - is the positions of the kids. Were some in the water, some on the roof and some inside? If so, who was coordinating everything and decided separation was best?

Hopefully more details will come, as it all sounds a little strange.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Hi 3RENSHO

Re;

"...after bumping into a floating object in the sea off Yoshima Island."

[Translation] The vessel sank after it crashed violently into a floating navigational buoy which is clearly marked on all nautical charts. The captain is now attempting to place the blame on a surfacing whale which disappeared after the accident.

Would you be able to post a link to the source of that information please?

gary

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

All 62 people on board, including five teachers, two tour guides and three crew members, were rescued by around 5:50 p.m. before the vessel foundered.

No death toll! Good thing!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Panic kills. These children didn’t panic for the most part. Brave kids!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Glad to hear eveyone is safe!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Thank God they survived. It could have been an absolute tradegy. And well done to the kids who encouraged eachother. Amazing bravery.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I can hear the kids yelling "do your best" 頑張って! to each other. That was a great outcome.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Well, following on from my earlier post, I have an update literally from the horses mouth.

This morning at a private English class, one of my students an older woman who is a resident of Sakaide, filled in some more details.

The boat after hitting an object (perhaps a submerged buoy) was listing badly. The captain made the decision to ask for volunteers to jump into the water - of course with life jackets on - to lighten the load and slow the inevitable sinking. He was worried that if the ship went down it would suck the kids down with it. Half the kids did so and these kids in the water encouraged each other. The fishing boat and coast guard arrived but it took a while to rescue all. The last kids were rescued standing on the boats side which was already submerged. A big tragedy was averted.

And the kids / school in days prior to the trip, had practiced exactly what to do in the event of an accident and their boat begins to sink as part of disaster readiness training.

No one ever thinks these drills will ever be put to use, but luckily for all they had a prepared idea of what to do.

A Happy Ending.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I really can't understand what's going on in murky minds of people who downvote comments like "Glad to hear everyone is safe!" or "Thank God they survived". Are you unhappy that everyone is safe, or what?

Great to know that everyone aboard is alive and a tragedy avoided,

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Why would any school take a group of kids on a ship/boat in 2020 for pleasure? Did we already forget the major problems cruise vessels have had in 2020? Stay on land!

I mean it's a miracle there were no fatalities! It could have been so much worse, but thankfully wasn't.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

What a nightmare.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

I'm pleased there's a happy ending to this story but I can't help wondering why they were all originally waiting on deck but moved them inside when the ship was sinking.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Ha,Ha - so funny. Usually I couldn't give a rats re up/downvotes.

But that 7 people thought it necessary to thumb down my relaying a report of what happened by a friend who lives there and knows the school brings a cheesy smile to this dial.

It wasn't an opinion piece.

Just goes to show that when evidence contradicts someone's pre-determined grasp on reality, they just switch the light on their own projector.

To date I have no further info re the incident, but no doubt my local news will flesh it out tonight.

But not much use in updating coz because too many brows are furrowed - LOL.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Heh Heh! Just got the latest from local tv.

The captain has been arrested.

He chose a route to pass under the Seto Ohashi bridge which is known to be very dangerous and you need lookouts for and aft. An expert said it was strange that he went that way because of strong currents and rocks which are both visible and submerged.

He ran the ship right over rocks which holed the stern. He was experienced in those waters, but he took a risk and deviated from the planned course.

All but 10 students didn't jump into the water because they were frightened.

The remainder of my earlier post as described by my friend is apparently correct. According to teachers there was only little panic and the kids showed courage and sense and remained calm in the water.

Alls well that ends well - cept for the cap'n.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Browny1: Thank you for contributing that additional information. Plus vote...!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Why so many down votes for comments expressing joy for the kids being saved, praising the kids bravery etc? Maybe I'm missing something?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Why so many down votes for comments expressing joy for the kids being saved, praising the kids bravery etc? Maybe I'm missing something?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Browny1: Thank you for contributing that additional information. Plus vote...!

I cannot understand why anyone would down vote the rescuing of the children. Maybe the down votes were for the captain taking the ship through a dangerous route that evidently is not normally taken. More likely there are some very unhappy people in the world that find fault in anything. I have read some pretty nasty comments in the comment sections concerning other articles. Nonetheless, it seems the captain and crew were professional enough to stay with the ship as it was in trouble and not abandon the children. Unfortunately that was not the case with a South Korean ferry boat, the Sewol, back in April of 2014. During that terrible situation, the captain and crew of the Sewol abandoned ship after telling passengers to remain in their cabins. Ultimately, more than 300 people perished, many of them teenage students on a class trip. Many students even texted their family to say their final goodbyes. Luckily the small children on this Japanese vessel did not endure such a fate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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