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Carelessness, weather claim two in Nakajin boating mishap

Date Posted: 2004-04-22

Coast Guard officials say it was an accident that never should have happened. Two men died and another two were rescued after a deadly boating mishap only a few hundred meters from the entrance to Nakajin Harbor. A combination of boating rules violations are being blamed for the deaths.

The five men set out in a 3.5 meter boat designed to seat only three people. None had life jackets as they set out on the Monday morning excursion to go picking sea shells on a nearby reef.

Only 500 meters from the harbor, tragedy struck. A strong wave slammed the boat, which was being rowed by hand, and flipped it upside down tossing the occupants into the water. One man, a strong swimmer, made his way to shore.

Two others were rescued by police, who say the men have lost their power, but still survived. The bodies of two others were recovered later.

All five were nursing and nursing welfare workers at Nakajin Village Hospital.

The reef known as “shirahama” means white beach, and local people know there are many shells at this reef, and that many people go there to pick them. Locals say many accidents have happened in this area, where the tide makes waters fast and high.

One of the survivors said “It was so fast, the water streaming that it was difficult to swim back to the harbor.”

The Coast Guard investigator says “it was too much of a problem already. They were overloading the boat, and had no life jackets, and were in a boat with no engine during high winds. That’s everything against the rules. That’s too bad. People should keep the rules and should understand how the ocean is dangerous place.”

Families of the two dead men are in shock. They still can’t accept that their loved ones are dead. One of the men had two small children. His wife says “we can’t imagine. It’s so sad. People were crying all night.”

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