Misawa airman drowns off northern Japan coast; 5 others rescued
July 25, 2010
TOKYO — A U.S. airman from Misawa Air Base drowned this weekend in waters off northern Japan, Air Force officials said Sunday evening.
The airman’s body was found at about 12 p.m. Sunday, a day after five other Misawa airmen were rescued from waters south of Hachinohe, Japan, a city about 16 miles south of the base on the northern tip of Honshu, officials said.
The airman’s name was withheld pending notification of family, according to a news release.
The cause of the incident is under investigation, though initial findings show the airmen “became stranded by rising waves and treacherous waters,” the news release stated.
The drowned airman was reported missing at 4:50 p.m. Saturday while swimming with five others in Tanahashi Cove just south of Hachinohe, according to base spokesman 1st Lt. Jeff Nagan.
Japanese police, the Japan Coast Guard, local firefighters and search-and-rescue divers responded. Five of the six airmen were pulled from the waters, treated at the Misawa base hospital and released by Sunday morning, according to Nagan.
The search for the sixth airman was suspended Saturday night and began again at daylight on Sunday, he said.
Nagan said the airmen were off-duty at the time of the incident.
It was unclear from initial reports Sunday if swimming was allowed in the cove. Nagan said all signs near the water were in Japanese only and contained no pictorial information.