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Tourist boat in Japan sinks with 26 on board, search for survivors still on

One of the rescued survivors being rushed to the hospital

Rescue teams in Japan say seven people have been found after a tourist boat with 26 people reportedly sank off the country’s northern island of Hokkaido.

The coastguard could not confirm whether those found were still alive.

According to Japanese media reports, the tourist boat, Kazu 1 was last heard from at around 15:00 local time on Saturday when the crew said it was tipping at a 30-degree angle and starting to sink.

Authorities lost contact with the vessel after it sent a distress signal saying it was taking on water at 13:15 local time on Saturday.

The rescue effort which includes helicopters, patrol boats and divers is still going on. There were two children among the 26 on board.

The boat was on a three-hour trip around the Shiretoko Peninsula which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The area is popular with tourists for its whales and sea lions as well as brown bears on the rocky beaches.

The sea had been very rough in the area and local fishing boats are reported to have returned to port by mid-morning.

The crew reportedly said that all those on board were wearing life jackets.

But temperatures in the area can plunge to 0 degrees Celsius at night.