TOKIO — The Japan Coast Guard on Monday searched the office of a tour boat operator as part of a criminal investigation into alleged human negligence that led to the sinking of a boat with 26 people on board in a national park last month.
The Kazu 1 began the excursion through Shiretoko National Park, in the northeastern tip of the country’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, on April 23 despite forecasts of rough seas and warnings from other tour operators. She launched a distress call that same afternoon warning of her shipwreck.
The coast guard said investigators were searching unidentified locations related to the ship’s operator, Shiretoko Pleasure Cruiser, which has already had two accidents last year. The images broadcast by public television NHK showed uniformed coast guards entering the company’s office and the house of the captain of the sunken ship.
Meanwhile, bad weather forced the coast guard on Monday to postpone plans to use a remote-controlled underwater camera to search the interior of the vessel in hopes of finding trapped bodies.
At the time of the incident, 24 passengers were traveling on board the boat, including two minors, and two crew members. So far, 14 bodies have been recovered.
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