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Fireworks festival excitement marred by spectator drowning

Date Posted: 2008-04-18

The season’s first fireworks festival Saturday in Ginowan City’s Kaihin Park drew more than 110,000 spectators who applauded the “JAL Presents Ryukyu Kaiensai” pyrotechnics, but the evening ended on a somber note when word circulated a 61-year-old man had fallen from his boat and drowned while leaving the festival site near the Okinawa Convention Center.

Only minutes after the fireworks, live music and Eisa dance performance drew to a close, Ken Oura and his family and friends were leaving the Tropical Beach area aboard his boat, headed to Naha Harbor. Oura fell overboard, and some of the 16 on the boat jumped in the water to try and save him. He was taken to a hospital, but doctors pronounced him dead of drowning.

Oura and the others on his boat had anchored offshore to watch the fireworks. Many others seeking to avoid the ¥3,000 entry fee to the Kaihin Park site gathered in boats, along the shoreline, on bridges, at Urasoe Fishing Port, and even from Highway 58 to watch the festivities.

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