DNA samples taken from sunken boat match victims

 DNA samples taken from sunken boat match victims

TOKYO Kyodo Japan coast guard said Friday that Russia informed it that DNA samples taken from two bodies found on Kunashiri Island matched passengers from a tourist boat that sank off Hokkaido in April.

The bodies are believed to be those of Akira Soyama, a 27-year-old deckhand, and a woman who were among 12 people still unaccounted for after the Kazu I sank in bad weather.

The boat, carrying 26 people, went missing on April 23 after leaving port in Shari, a town on Japan's northernmost island, for a cruise along the Shiretoko Peninsula. The vessel, which left despite bad weather warnings, was located on April 29 on the seabed off Hokkaido.

Fourteen victims had already been identified.

The body was found on May 10 on the west coast of Kunashiri Island. Nine days later, another body was found with a driver's license located nearby indicating it was Soyama.

DNA from the deckhand and three missing women had been sent to Russia to see if they matched any bodies found ashore, the Japan Coast Guard said.

Japan will reconfirm the victims' identities once they are handed over.

Kunashiri Island is one of four Russian-controlled, Japan-claimed islands collectively called the Northern Territories by Tokyo and the Southern Kurils by Moscow.