Sunday, October 21, 2001

Divers with a mobile diving and salvage unit conducted an
external survey of the Japanese Fishing Vessel Ehime Maru
at a shallow water recovery site off Honolulu.

Sunken tomb
fifth identity

Medical examiners use dental
records to ID a crewman
from the Ehime Maru

Parents still seeking answers in sinking of Ehime Maru

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The medical examiner has identified the fifth body recovered from the sunken Ehime Maru as crewman Hiroshi Nishida.

Uwajima Fisheries High School Principal Ietaka Horita and Ehime Prefecture Vice Gov. Nobuyoshi Yano brought the news to his widow, Chihoko Nishida, yesterday at her Honolulu hotel room.

"She said she appreciated it, and said, 'Thank you. I will go on,'" Horita told the Star-Bulletin through an interpreter yesterday.

Nishida also told Horita she wants all nine missing men and boys from the Japanese fisheries training vessel to be found and to go back to Japan together.

Since the underwater search for survivors' bodies began last week, six sets of remains have been recovered and five identified, all confirmed by dental records.

All those identified died of drowning after the 190-foot Japanese fisheries training vessel sank Feb. 9 after being hit by the nuclear attack submarine USS Greeneville.

The medical examiner said that a sixth set of remains cannot be identified without the use of DNA testing, which may take at least a month.

Identified earlier this week were:

>> Uwajima Fisheries High School students: Toshiya Sakashima, 17; and Katsuya Nomoto, 17.

>> Ehime Maru crewmen: Toshimichi Furuya, 47; and Hirotaka Segawa, 60.

Still unaccounted for are Uwajima Fisheries School teachers Hiroshi Makizawa and Jun Nakata and two 17-year-old students, Takeshi Mizuguchi and Yusuke Terata.

Yesterday, 11 relatives of the missing arrived here including Miyako Sakashima, the mother of Toshiya, and Kazuteru Segawa, the eldest son of chief radio operator Hirotaka.

Rear Adm. William R. Klemm of the U.S. Pacific Fleet met privately with the families of the nine victims and Japanese officials yesterday afternoon.

In a briefing last night, an official of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said through an interpreter that Klemm apologized for the incident.

Klemm also told Japanese families that the search for personal items of the victims will begin after the bodies have been found.

In addition to meeting with Navy officials, the relatives will be taken to the recovery site one mile south of Honolulu Airport's reef runway where the Ehime Maru was relocated a week ago. But they will not be allowed on the 400-foot diving barge which is staffed by 60 Navy and six Japanese civilian divers.

Divers have made about 100 dives so far. Today's dive will be from 1 to 6 p.m.

The relatives were met by Japanese and Ehime prefecture government officials at the airport. The Furuya family is scheduled to arrive today and the last of the nine families, the Mizuguchis, will arrive tomorrow.

Ehime Vice Gov. Yano met with Adm. Thomas Fargo, Pacific Fleet commander, on Friday to express the prefecture government's gratitude for the "unprecedented" efforts of the United States to raise the ship from its resting place nine miles south of Diamond Head.

About 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel have been "vacuumed" from the interior of the vessel, and there has been no major leakage during the recovery operation. The Ehime Maru was carrying 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel and lube oil when it sank. The Navy estimated that by the time the operation to lift the 830-ton vessel from 2,000 feet of water was completed only 10,000 gallons remained.

There have been reports of birds on Oahu's south shore and at Mokapu peninsula (at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base) showing discolored feathers, probably due to oil. However, the Navy cautioned that the red-footed boobies and the great frigates that nest in the rookery there generally feed at sea and could have been contaminated from another oil source.

Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori contributed to this story.

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