By Wendy Laursen 2015-08-02 18:49:43
One crew member remains missing after a ferry caught fire off Japan on Friday.
The Japanese Coast Guard stated on Sunday that they had failed to find the ship’s second officer, Kunihiko Orita, 44.
Orita was fighting a blaze on the MOL Ferry Co.’s Sunflower Daisetsu as it sailed about 50km off Tomakomai in Japan. The Japan Times reports that, in his final contact with the captain, Orita was quoted as saying, “There’s horrible black smoke here. It’s hard to see anything nearby.”
Nine coast guard members boarded the ferry from helicopters, but smoke and heat in the still-burning ferry hampered their search efforts.
The vessel’s 71 passengers and 22 other crew members were rescued by a coast guard ship and other vessels in the vicinity.
The fire reportedly broke out in a parking area that contained four refrigerated container trucks and may have spread to the engine room and the steering gear room.
The coast guard is continuing attempts to extinguish the fire, but there are concerns that too much water could sink the vessel.