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Tour boat vanishes with 26 on board

A tour boat has vanished off the coast of Japan carrying 26 people.

The vessel has been missing for more than seven hours, according to the coastguard.

The Kazu 1 issued a distress call and warned it was taking on water before all trace was lost.

A rescue operation is under way to locate any survivors from the 24 passengers and two crew members.

The ship’s captain had earlier told the coastguard over the radio that the ship’s bow had flooded.

They warned the ship was beginning to tilt and sink off the western coast of the country.

It was sailing in waters around the Shiretoko Peninsula on the northern island of Kokkaido at the time.

This photo shows Shiretoko Peninsula in the northern island of Hokkaido on Sept. 25, 2021. A tour boat with 26 people aboard was missing in rough waters off northern Japan on Saturday, April 23, 2022 after issuing a distress call and reporting to be sinking, the coast guard said. (Kyodo News via AP)
There were reports of bad weather and high waves off the coast of Shiretoko Peninsula before the boat vanished (Picture: AP/Kyodo News)

High waves and strong winds were observed in the area around 12pm, according to a local fisheries co-operative.

Japanese media reports said fishing boats returned to port before noon because of the bad weather.

The NHK public broadcaster said there was a warning for high waves of up to nine feet high.

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