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U.S. Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni help Japanese locals clean up during a volunteer event at Iwami Seaside Park in Hamada City, Japan, Sept. 18, 2018.
U.S. Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni help Japanese locals clean up during a volunteer event at Iwami Seaside Park in Hamada City, Japan, Sept. 18, 2018. (Akeel Austin/U.S. Marine Corps)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The Marine Corps said Sunday that “search efforts are still ongoing” for a Marine who went missing at sea days earlier during a recreational trip to a beach in Shimane prefecture.

The Japan Coast Guard office in Hamada received a call at approximately 11 a.m. Thursday about a person drowning near the Iwami Kahin campground at Hamada Beach, an agency spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone Saturday morning.

An earlier report in the Chugoku newspaper described the person as a 24-year-old Marine assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in neighboring Yamaguchi prefecture.

“About 20 people affiliated with the base were visiting the beach,” the report said. “The man went missing after he went to rescue two men in the group, who were swept out off shore.”

The coast guard came up empty after searching Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the spokesman said on Sunday. It’s customary in Ja-pan for some government officials to speak to the media on condi-tion of anonymity.

However, the Marine Corps said its operation continues.

“The search efforts are still ongoing and there has not yet been a change in the Marine’s status,” Capt. Marco Valenzuela, a spokesman for Marine Aircraft Group 12 at MCAS Iwakuni, said in an email to Stars and Stripes on Sunday.

The beach has not yet opened for the season, the coast guard spokesman said. The sea was experiencing swells of up to nearly 10 feet at the time of the incident, along with strong winds.

The beach is a popular spot for locals and those in neighboring prefectures, he added.

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