Tsunami football ends up in Alaska
A football lost by a Japanese teenager in last year's devastating tsunami has turned up — on a beach in ALASKA.
Disaster officials say the ball with the youngster’s name inscribed on it is one of the first pieces of debris from the tsunami to wash up on the other side of the Pacific.
A man found the ball while beachcombing on an Alaskan island, and his Japanese wife, phoned its owner — 16-year-old Misaki Murakami — in Japan.
And to Murakami's delight the family have made arrangements to send the ball back to him.
Murakami, from the town of Rikuzentakata, was shocked at the news that his football had been found more than 3,000 miles away.
He said: “It was a big surprise. I’ve never imagined that my ball has reached Alaska."
He added: “I’ve lost everything in the tsunami. So I’m delighted. I really want to say thank you for finding the ball.”
Murakami lost his home and everything in it when it was washed away in the March 11, 2011, tsunami, which devastated a long stretch of Japan’s north-eastern coast and killed about 19,000 people.
The ball, which also had messages of encouragement written on it, was given to the teenager in 2005 as a goodbye gift when he left primary school and transferred to another school.
Debris from the tsunami initially formed a thick mass in the ocean off Japan’s north-eastern coast and has since spread out across the Pacific.
David Baxter, a radar technician from Kasilof, Alaska, found Murakami’s ball while beachcombing in March on Middleton Island, 70 miles south of the Alaskan mainland.
Mr Baxter said: “When I first saw the soccer ball I was excited to see it and I thought it was possible it came from the tsunami zone."
He also found a volleyball that appears to be from Japan, but its owner has not been found.
Baxter’s wife, Yumi, reached Murakami with help from a Japanese reporter.
Baxter said Murakami had expressed his gratitude to the couple for “for wanting to take the time to even try to find him.”