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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Japanese ferry runs into 'whale'
A high-speed Japanese ferry has collided with what is thought to be a whale, leaving 49 people injured - 13 in a serious condition.

The two-deck ferry, carrying more than 100 passengers and crew, was near the city of Kagoshima on the southern island of Kyushu when it happened.

The Coast Guard said it received a distress call from the boat shortly after 1800 local time (0900 GMT).

Ships in the area often collide with whales, a ferry company spokesman said.

Seven of the most seriously injured passengers have been taken back to land by rescue boat, a coast guard official said.

He said the other passengers remained on the ferry, which was not in danger of sinking.

Ferry spokesman Yukinori Chosa said the impact caused many people to fall over and hit their backs.

The ferry is now unable to move on its own and will have to be towed back to port, he told the AFP news agency.

Officials believe the boat collided with a whale or another large sea animal.

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