A FOOTBALL WHICH was swept from a teenage boy’s home during the devastating Japanese tsunami of March 2011 has washed up in Alaska.
The ball washed ashore on Middleton Island where Alaskan David Baxter and his Japanese wife found it. The teenager’s name had been written on the football and he was contacted by the couple.
“It was a big surprise,” 16-year-old Misaki Murakami told Japanese broadcaster NHK. “I’ve lost everything in the tsunami. So I’m delighted. I really want to say thank you for finding the ball.”
His home, more than 5,000km from the Alaskan island, was wrecked by the tsunami and he said that the ball had been a gift from classmates when he changed schools years before.
Debris from the tsunami of 11 March 2011 initially formed a thick mass off the eastern coast of Japan, but this mass has since been spreading out.
Currents are expected to bring much of the matter to the western US and Canadian coast in March 2013, and the football is one of the first pieces of debris to travel that distance. Baxter later found a volleyball whose owner has been traced in Japan.
The University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center has charted the likely spread of debris from the tsunami across the Pacific Ocean:
Note: model may only be partially visible on iPhone or other smartphone screens.
A Japanese ‘ghost ship’ which was dislodged during the tsunami showed up off the Alaskan coast a year later. The US Coast Guard sank the vessel in case it collided with another vessel in the busy shipping lanes between Asia and North America.