A floating pier being constructed in Okinotori Island overturned on Sunday, killing five workers while two remain missing. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism reported that nine of the sixteen workers building the structure were rescued after the 30-meter pier collapsed.
The Japan Coast Guard deployed two aircraft and two vessels to assist in the rescue operations after the pier fell into the sea off the uninhabited island at around 7:30 AM on Sunday. However, the ships might take several days to reach the islet, which is 1,700 kilometers south of Tokyo. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe immediately ordered relevant agencies to help and cooperate in the search for the two missing workers. The pier that was being constructed was a joint venture among Penta-Ocean Construction Co., Nippon Steel & Sumikin Engineering Co. and Toa Corp, according to the Kanto Regional Development Bureau.
Okinotori is an atoll of coral reefs and most of it is actually under sea surface, with just two islets visible above sea level during high tide. There is also a 400,000-square-km exclusive economic zone around the group of islets and the government has been building concrete walls to protect them. Many marine experts believe that Okinotori holds rich natural resources and must therefore be protected.
[ via Mainichi ]