This photo shows a fishing port where a tour boat which went missing, left for tour in Shari, in the northern island of Hokkaido Saturday, April 23, 2022 Image Credit: AP

Tokyo: A tour boat with 26 people aboard was missing in rough waters off northern Japan on Saturday after issuing a distress call and reporting to be sinking, the coast guard said.

No survivors have been found after more than seven hours of an intense search involving six patrol boats and four aircraft.

The 19-ton Kazu 1 made an emergency call in early afternoon, saying the ship's bow had flooded and was beginning to sink and tilt when it was traveling off the western coast of Shiretoko Peninsula in the northern island of Hokkaido, the coast guard said.

The tour boat has since lost contact, it said. It was carrying 24 passengers and two crew.

High waves and strong winds were observed in the area around noon, according to a local fisheries cooperative. Japanese media reports said fishing boats had returned to port before noon because of the bad weather.

The NHK public broadcaster said there was a warning for high waves of up to 3 meters (9 feet) high.