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24 fishermen rescued from half-submerged ship in rough seas off Japanese island, but 1 found dead

In this photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, a coast guard helicopter hovers over a fishing boat tilting almost to the side, for their rescue, off Kozushima, southwest of Tokyo, Monday, March 4, 2024. A tuna fishing boat went aground near one of Izu islands southwest of Tokyo after an engine trouble. ( Japan Coast Guard via AP) In this photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, a coast guard helicopter hovers over a fishing boat tilting almost to the side, for their rescue, off Kozushima, southwest of Tokyo, Monday, March 4, 2024. A tuna fishing boat went aground near one of Izu islands southwest of Tokyo after an engine trouble. ( Japan Coast Guard via AP)
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Tokyo, Japan -

A Japanese coast guard helicopter rescued 24 fishermen as they desperately clung to the deck of a tilting, half-submerged ship being pounded by high waves Monday morning off an island chain southwest of Tokyo. One crewmember thrown from the rocking ship into the rough seas before the arrival of the rescuers was found dead.

The Fukuei Maru No. 8 stalled due to an engine failure Sunday evening in the Pacific Ocean, about five hours after it departed the Yaizu Port in central Japan en route to South America for tuna fishing, according to the coast guard statement.

It apparently drifted in the rough seas and was blown by the strong wind, and the captain sent a distress signal about five hours later, saying his ship hit the rocks, the coast guard said. It said that within two hours of the rescuers' arrival at the scene, the ship reported to them that one crew was missing.

The coast guard sent three patrol ships and three helicopters with special rescue teams to the site where the 56-metre (183-foot), 379-ton ship went aground just north of Kozushima Island, part of the Izu group and about 170 kilometres (43 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Public broadcaster NHK showed the crewmembers standing against the bridge of the half-submerged ship as the waves pounded into it, each person waiting for their turn as fellow crewmembers were airlifted one by one by the helicopter hovering overhead.

The ship carried 20 Indonesian crewmembers and five Japanese, including its captain, the coast guard said.

The man thrown into the water was found washed ashore and was pronounced dead at a clinic nearby. He was the ship's first engineer and was a 67-year-old Japanese man.

The cause of the ship's engine failure and loss of power was not immediately known.

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