A Japanese submarine cruising on the surface rammed and sank a chartered fishing boat with 48 people aboard Saturday, killing at least one man and leaving 29 missing and presumed dead in the navy's worst accident since World War II.
The Nadashio, a 2,200-ton Yuushio-class submarine, was headed back to its base when it broadsided the 150-ton Daiichi Fuji Maru at about 3:40 p.m. in the Uraga Straight near the port of Yokosuka, 25 miles south of Tokyo, a spokesman for the Japan Maritime Safety Agency said.Nineteen people, including several women and children, were rescued shortly after the collision, and 18 were taken to the Yokosuka hospital, where one, a 38-year-old-man, died at 10:12 p.m., officials said.
Divers searching the scene 2 miles off Yokosuka found the fishing vessel lying 150-feet beneath the surface early Sunday but no bodies were discovered.
Search officials said the 29 missing people were presumed dead and their bodies were apparently in the boat but it was undecided when divers would try to raise the vessel.
The submarine, which survivors said was cruising on the surface at a high speed when it swerved into the fishing boat, was not damaged, a navy spokesman said.
"I feel a great pain in my heart," said the director general of Japan's Defense Agency, Tsutomu Kawara, in a televised news conference.
"We will continue searching through the night," said the spokesman for the Maritime Safety Agency.
The narrow entrance to Tokyo Bay has a history of shipping accidents due to the heavy traffic, about 520 vessles per day, officials said. The fishing boat, carrying a crew of eight plus 40 members of a fishing club, sank in less than two minutes in about 160 feet of water.
The captain of the boat, Manji Kondo, 30, told officials he believed most of the missing passengers had been in a lounge below the deck when the submarine capsized the boat about two miles off the coast.
"I was watching the sea and saw the submarine coming," Junko Muto, 27, told a television reporter who interviewed her. "We thought the submarine was giving us a special show. Then it changed course and headed straight for us at a fast speed."
"The submarine didn't even stop to help us. I'm so mad at them," she said.