Three dead in tuna boat fire

Japanese coastguard retrieved from the water bodies of three crew members who were aboard a tuna trawler that went ablaze in the Pacific Ocean off Kochi Prefecture.

The three, among seven crewmen who went missing after the trawler Kaisei Maru No. 8 caught fire on Sunday, were spotted floating 50 kilometers south of the area where the fire initially broke out.

The confirmed dead were identified as skipper Naohiro Matsuoka, 66, and chief engineer Manabu Ichihara, 54, both Japanese, and Yosan Safii, from Indonesia. All suffered cardiopulmonary arrest, officials said.

Reports of the fire reached authorities Sunday morning. Coast Guard patrol vessels arrived at the scene of the fire that night and continued searching for the missing crew overnight.

A fuel slick 500 meters long and 100 meters wide was spotted near the boat, prompting officials to extend the search area.

Another Indonesian crew member was found alive by a fishing boat who had opted to join and help in the search, around 410 kilometers south of Kochi Prefecture.

The Indonesian, who identified himself as “Simon”, was airlifted to a hospital in the main island. “He is very weak, but conscious. He is not in a life-threatening condition,” the spokesman for the Coast Guard said.

The Japan Transport Safety Board said they would investigate the cause of fire.

By Maesie Bertumen

Main image: Flickr/ Nemo’s great uncle

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