- Toya Maru
The nihongo|"Toya Maru"|洞爺丸|Tōyamaru was a
Japanese freightlinerconstructed by the Japanese National Railwayswhich sank during a typhoonin the Tsugaru Straitbetween the Japanese islands of Hokkaidōand Honshūon September 26, 1954. It is said that 1153 people (Japanese National Railways announcement in September 1955) aboard were killed in the accident, however the exact number of fatalities remains unknown because there were victims who managed to ride the ship and those who forcedly cancelled their rides just before the incident.
The "Toya Maru" was launched on
November 21, 1947. It was 118.7 meters (approximately 130 yards) long and 15.85 meters (60 ft) at its beam and it had a Gross Register Tonnageof 3,898 tons. It could accommodate 1,128 passengers and was operated by 120 crew. She covered the distance from Aomori to Hakodatein 4 hours and 30 minutes.
As early as 1950, it was fitted with
Radarequipment, becoming one of the first Japanese sea liners to do so. It was used by the Emperorthe month before her demise. It was also famous as the flag ship of the Tsugaru Strait.
The following refers to what happened on
September 26, 1954to the "Toya Maru".
Typhoon No.15, Marie, which had blown through
Honshū, was in the Sea of Japanat 12:00 hours on September 26, 1954, proceeding Northeast at a speed of more than 100 kilometers an hour. It was predicted to reach the Tsugaru Strait at around 17:00 hours.
At 11:00 hours, the "Toya Maru" arrived at
Hakodateafter its first journey that day from Aomori. She was originally scheduled to return at 14:40 hours, to arrive at Aomori just before Typhoon Mary. However, due to the expected storm, another ferry the "Dai 11 Seikan Maru", a somewhat poorer quality vessel, could not depart on its scheduled journey to Hakodate. Therefore, passengers and vehicles were transferred to the "Toya Maru" delaying departure.
The captain of the "Toya Maru" decided to cancel its journey at 15:10 hours.
At 17:00 hours, following heavy rainfall in Hakodate, the weather cleared up and the outlook improved. The captain presuming that the Typhoon had now passed as predicted decided to proceed with the journey for Aomori. However, by this time the Typhoon had slowed and was predicted to stay over the strait for an entire day.
Strangely, the typhoon was gaining strength on
Japan Sea. The Typhoon is considered to have already become an extratropical cyclonewhen it reached Japan, in recent years.
At 18:39 the "Toya Maru" departed from Hakodate with approximately 1,300 passengers aboard. Shortly thereafter the wind picked up coming from a SSE direction.
At 19:01, the "Toya Maru" lowered its anchor at the very side of Hakodate Port to wait for the weather to clear up again. However, due to the high winds, the anchor did not hold and the "Toya Maru" was cast adrift. Water entered to the engine room due to poor design of the vehicle decks, causing its steam engine to stop and the "Toya Maru" to become uncontrollable. The captain decided to beach the sea liner onto Nanae Beach, in the outskirts of
At 22:26 hours, the "Toya Maru" beached and an SOS call was made. However the waves were so strong that the sea liner could no longer remain upright and at around 22:43 hours, the "Toya Maru" capsized and sank at sea several hundred meters off the shore of Hakodate. Of the 1,309 on board only 150 people survived, while 1,159 (1,041 passengers, 73 crew and 41 others) died.
Four other ferries sank in the same typhoon with a total loss of life of 1,430.cite journal| author=Matsuo, S. | title=An overview of the Seikan Tunnel Project Under the Ocean | journal=Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology | year=1986 | volume=1 | issue = 3/4 | pages=323–331]
The disaster was one of the major factors behind the construction of the
Seikan Tunnelbetween Hokkaidō and Honshū. However, ferry traffic still continues to operate in the strait.
1954 Pacific typhoon season
* [http://www5.hokkaido-np.co.jp/nature/digest/29/touyamaru.html Additional information on the Toya Maru, including pictures (Japanese)]
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