A Japanese fishing boat capsized off the country's eastern coast today amid strong winds, killing four crew members and leaving 13 others missing, the Coast Guard said.
Another three people were safe after being rescued off the 135-tonne Number 58 Suwamaru, which was carrying 20 crew members when it capsized, a Coast Guard official said.
Coast Guard ships were heading to the area of the incident some 330 kilometres off eastern Japan's Chiba prefecture, he said, adding that four small fishing boats were also helping rescue efforts.
The accident was unlikely to have been caused by a collision, the Coast Guard said.
The boat had reportedly anchored in the Pacific despite rough weather.
"There were relatively strong winds at the time of the capsizing," another Coast Guard spokesman said.
The area of the accident was experiencing waves of two metres at the time of the accident. The weather was cloudy, with visibility of four to five nautical miles (10 kilometres), according to the Coast Guard.
One of the fishing boats in the area had spotted the accident and alerted the Coast Guard.
The fishermen who died were from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in the northern part of Japan's main island of Honshu.