Salvage crew tries again to raise sunken Japanese tour boat off Hokkaido

Attempts to raise a sunken tourist boat off Hokkaido resumed on Thursday for a second time after the initial attempt failed and brought the vessel back on the sea bed.

The boat Kazu I carrying 26 people sank off Hokkaido on April 23, after making a distress call saying it was taking on water in rough seas, leaving 14 people dead and 12 missings.

The salvage team also used the Nippon Salvage Co. hired by the Japan Coast Guard.

They restarted the operation to raise the 19-tonnes Kazu I, which was residing on the seabed around 180 meters below the surface.

If the mission was successful, the boat would be brought to the surface at some point later today.

Local reports said the belts used to wrap around the boat were more robust than those used before.

The initial attempt saw the boat drop back to the seabed on Tuesday while it was being towed to shallow waters after it was raised to a depth of around 20 meters.

The company, however, is hoping that once the boat is raised from the seabed would be drained at a local port for several days for further investigations.

The Japanese government has been in talks with Russian authorities after two bodies were found washed up on Kunashiri, one of the southern Kuril Islands disputed by Tokyo and Moscow.

The bodies may have been those from the missing tour boat.

Coast guard officials planned to keep communicating with the Russian side to identify recently found bodies, local accounts said.

The Russian coast guard has agreed to allow Japanese vessels into the area in line with the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, a bilateral accord on maritime accidents inked between the two countries. (Xinhua/NAN) 

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