1st LD Writethru: Man confirmed dead after fishing boat fire, explosion in northeast Japan

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TOKYO, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- A crew member of a squid fishing boat that caught fire in a port in northeastern Japan has been confirmed dead, the Japan Coast Guard said Thursday according to local media reports.

The coast guard said it believes the body it discovered inside the 14-ton fishing boat is that of a man in his 50s who was previously reported as missing, local media reported.

According to earlier reports, a fire broke out on the vessel with firefighters receiving an emergency call at around 10:10 a.m. local time.

The emergency call came from the port in Akita, along the Sea of Japan, the reports said, with the fire on the boat believed to have caused it to explode.

It took firefighters more than an hour to extinguish the blaze, local media said.

Authorities said the explosion of the fishing boat, which belongs to a fishery cooperative in Aomori Prefecture, next to Akita Prefecture, is thought to have caused two other ships in the vicinity to catch fire.

Authorities quoted the captain of the ship as saying that the vessel had not been out to sea for a couple of days due to inclement weather.

They added that the captain said that a crew member who had been staying overnight on the boat is believed to be the victim.

Eye-witnesses were quoted by local media as saying that they heard a loud explosion followed by seeing black smoke billowing. After that, multiple explosions were heard. Enditem

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