A Japanese ferry company apologized on Sunday after one of its ships collided with an object believed to be a whale in the Sea of Japan, injuring 80 people, reports The New York Times.
The accident occurred on Saturday off the coast of Niigata Prefecture as the ferry was traveling to Sado Island, according to a statement on the website of the company,
One crew member told that he had seen a “large white body” on the water’s surface just before the accident.
Serious Injury and Damage
It was reported that six people were seriously injured when the ship ran into a “marine animal.” There were 125 people, including crew members, aboard, according to Kyodo News.
The ship, a jetfoil that skims across the water’s surface at high speed, sustained damage to its hull and “machinery,” the company said. The ferry made it to its destination, Kyodo News reported.
Collisions with marine life have been an occasional problem for ferries in Japan: Whales and other animals are thought to give a wider berth to propeller-driven ships, which are louder than the relatively quiet jetfoils.
The company said it would open an investigation.
According to reports in 2016, after a number of accidents involving whales, the local authorities in Kyushu, one of Japan’s main islands where high-speed ferries are a common mode of transportation issued new safety requirements for the ships, including having additional padding and requiring all passengers to wear seatbelts.
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