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662 Ton Russian Vessel Collides With Japanese Fishing Boat; 3 Dead, Vessel Seized

At least three Japanese fishermen were killed after their boat collided with a Russian vessel in the Sea of Okhotsk on Wednesday.

The Sea of Okhotsk is located between Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, Japan’s island of Hokkaido on the south.

The incident happened about 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) northeast of Mombetsu Port in Japan’s northeastern Hokkaido prefecture, the country’s public broadcaster NHK reported.

Eight people were onboard their 9.7-ton boat, Daihachi Hokkoumaru, which collided with the 662-ton Russian ship, AMUR. The boat subsequently capsized.

The Japan Coast Guard said three of them were pronounced dead as they “had no vital signs when they were returned to Mombetsu Port.”

The deceased include Daihachi Hokkoumaru’s chief engineer, 64, and two sailors aged 37 and 39.

The report added that another sailor suffered minor injuries.

Japanese crew were fishing for crabs in the sea “when the Russian vessel hit the side of their boat.”

The AMUR, with 23 crew members on board, had left the far eastern Russian province of Sakhalin on Tuesday, transporting crabs to Mombetsu port.

Quoting a Russian border guard in Sakhalin, the NHK reported that the vessels “apparently collided because of low visibility due to fog.”

Ever since the end of World War II, Japan and Russia could not sign a peace treaty mainly due to a dispute over the sovereignty of four Russian-held islands — Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai, and Shikotan — off Japan’s Hokkaido province.​​​​​​​

The Russian trawler Amur will continue to remain in the Japanese port of Monbetsu. When  Amur will be permitted to depart from the port has not been determined, TASS was told by the Japanese coast guard department of the port city of Monbetsu.

“At present, the date when the ship will be released is completely undefined. Since various procedures are expected within the framework of the investigation, we think that the ship will remain in Monbetsu in the near future,” the source said.

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