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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



JARPA II 2006/2007 Update #20 - Japanese crew member's body recovered

Readers will be aware of events in the Antarctic over the past week.

While there had been grave fears for the safety of human life and property in relation to violent protest activity against the JARPA research fleet, a different type of terrible situation arose with a fire breaking out beneath the deck of the Nisshin Maru. While the ICR and NZ authorities have reported that they were satisfied that the oil and fuel on board the ship is safely contained, one of the Nisshin Maru crew members was reported missing after the evacuation of the ship.

The body of 27 year old Kazutaka Makita has today apparently been recovered by his crew members.

UPDATE: Below is the text of the press release from the ICR:


17 February 2007 (p.m.)

“Today, the crew of the Nisshin Maru were able to search the area of the vessel that caught fire. It is with great sadness they have reported finding the body of sailor Kazutaka Makita, who succumbed to the effects of the fire.

“He was located at 08:20 am (local time) on the second deck close to where the fire began and quickly spread throughout that area.

“Mr Makita, 27, was from Kagoshima Prefecture, south of Kyushu Island. He has played an important role aboard Nisshin Maru.

“This is deeply saddening. The Institute of Cetacean Research and Kyodo Senpaku express their heartfelt sympathy to Mr Makita’s family,” Dr Hatanaka and Mr. Yamamura said.


The Japanese version of the press release is here.

The Nisshin Maru was scheduled to return to the port of Kagoshima in April. I suppose there may be changes to those preparations in light of this tragedy.

UPDATE #2: 373news.com has more details (my translation):
The body of Kazutaka Makita (27) of Kawanabe town was discovered on the 17th at 08:20, near the meat processing area where the fire is believed to have started. The cause of death is believed to be carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

According to Kyodo Senpaku, owner of the Nisshin Maru and Makita-san's employer, smoke had cleared enough to make a visual search possible. 3 crew members donned oxygen masks and began their search around 08:00. Makita-san, who was last seen around an hour before the outbreak of the fire in the processing area, was found fallen at the entrance of the area's standby room.

The ship's doctor, Dr. Sugiyama conducted an autopsy, and while burns were found on both of Makita-san's arms, his death is believed to be due to large inhalation of smoke, leading to CO poisoning. The estimated time of death is unknown.

The company informed Makita-san's family by telephone. Two officials have been dispatched to Makita-san's home in Kawanabe town. Company president Kazuo Yamamoto said "This is extremely unfortunate. We are very sorry, especially as he was so young".

The fire on the Nisshin Maru broke out before dawn on the morning of the 15th. On the 17th at noon Japan time, fire extinguishing work is continuing, with heat insulating agents being used to smoulder the remnant hot spots.

There is no concern of the ship sinking, but cables have been burnt, and the possibility of the vessel continuing on it's own power will be investigated once the fire has been completed extinguished.
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