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Three fishermen die in ship-trawler collision

Date Posted: 2008-10-26

A collision between a Japanese freighter and a small fishing vessel has killed three of the six crewmen aboard the smaller fishing boat off the coast of northwest Okinawa.
The 14.7-ton fishing trawler was in waters less than two kilometers from Minna Jima, near Motobu Town, when it crossed paths with the cargo ship. Officials say the 9,813-ton freighter Shuri, operated by Kinkai Yusen Logistics Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based company, when its bow smashed into the trawler Kohei Maru. A Japan Coast Guard patrol boat and several fishing boats quickly responded to the scene, and the six crew members were taken to a Nago City hospital within several hours.
Three fishermen were pronounced dead at the hospital. They’ve been identified as Shiko Miyagi, 57, Katsuhiro Kaneshi, 52, and Kenichi Tomori, 48. The fishing vessel was sliced in half by the freighter, Coast Guard officials say, noting that weather was clear and visibility unimpeded at the time of the Thursday morning collision.
The freighter was en route from Osaka to Naha carrying container cargo. A northern Okinawa fisheries’ cooperative official, Masakazu Miyagi, expressed surprise at the accident, noting the Shuri’s captain was “an expert with more than 20 years experience.”
Investigators say the fishing boat crew was sleeping at the rear of the vessel when the collision took place. The deaths were caused by drowning, a heart attack and a third from chest injuries. The Kohei Maru captain, Akira Nakamura, told investigators “I was sleeping near the cockpit when the cargo ship blasted its big horn at us. I was surprised and woke up right away, and saw the big black ship in front of me.”
The 11th Maritime Coast Guard checked the freighter, where it found evidence of paint from the fishing boat. The fishing boat captain said he jumped in the water after the collision, and swam to the aid of two crew members clinging to pieces of debris from his destroyed boat.

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