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Drifting Taiwan boat debris threatens Ishigaki coastline

Date Posted: 2006-01-27

Floating garbage and refuse has always been a problem as it washes up on shore, but Ishigaki is facing a more serious threat from a Taiwanese boat.

The vessel broke apart after a collision last August 10th with a Korean ship in the Amami O’Shima area. Tides have caused the debris to shift directions, and are bringing the derelict boat to Ishigaki Island on Okinawa’s southern area.

Coast Guard officials and local residents say the boat’s causing headaches, and residents are upset. “Why aren’t the Taiwan people recovering the boat?” asked one. “It is an ocean accident. They should clean the boat.”

The Coast Guard tried stopping the drifting ship, putting an anchor on it as it neared the reefs. It held for a while, but officials say someone cut the rope. The Coast Guard has successfully called the Taiwan Culture Economic Association in Ishigaki to locate the owner. They told him it was his responsibility to remove the boat from Japanese waters.

Taiwan’s response has been quick. “We’re sorry for disturbing Ishigaki people,” the spokesman said. “We didn’t mean to bother you. The Korean side should be taking care of this boat, but they’ve neglected their responsibilities.” The spokesman promised that Taiwan will take responsibility and pull the boat out of Ishigaki waters in the near future.

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