AKITA – Eight bodies were found Monday on a boat that washed ashore in the city of Oga in Akita Prefecture, Japan Coast Guard officials said.
The wooden boat, which was first seen on a beach on Sunday morning, may have come from North Korea, according to the Coast Guard. It is the latest discovery of an unidentified boat washed ashore along the Japanese coast in a string of similar recent cases.
The boat is different in shape from the North Korean fishing boat that was discovered last week at a marina some 70 km (about 50 miles) south of the latest case. The boat that washed up last week was carrying eight men but the vessel later disappeared. Police are looking into both cases.
The Coast Guard said it had originally discovered the latest boat afloat offshore last Friday but could not inspect it as bad weather prevented its vessels from approaching. Some of the bodies on it had been reduced to no more than skeletons, it added.
A 68-year-old woman who saw the boat Monday morning said rescue workers carried the remains ashore one after another using stretchers. “I was surprised to see the boat in such a bad condition,” she said.
Earlier this month, three North Korean men were rescued and seven bodies were recovered from two capsized boats off the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. In Aomori Prefecture, north of Akita, wooden boats bearing Korean Hangul script also drifted ashore.