Sunday, May 13, 2012

Japan’s 2011 Tsunami Sends Balls 8,000 Kilometres To Alaska

An aerial view of the tsunami damage in Sendai, Japan
An aerial view of the 2011 tsunami damage in Sendai, Japan. Image: U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord
In March 2011, Japan was hit by the largest earthquake ever recorded.
It caused a tsunami–a huge wave that started out in the ocean. The tsunami swept onto the north-east coast of Japan and back into the sea, carrying away everything in its path.
Now, after travelling across the Pacific Ocean for more than a year, a soccer ball and a volleyball have washed up onto Middleton Island, off the coast of Alaska.
The man who found them plans to send them back to the two Japanese teenagers who lost them during the tsunami.
The balls were found two weeks apart and both balls had names on them. The soccer ball also had a school name and several messages.
David Baxter found them when he was beachcombing–in this case, a beachcomber is someone who enjoys walking along the beach looking for shells and other things. Baxter and his wife, Yumi, who is Japanese, tracked down 16-year-old Misaki Murakami, whose name was on the soccer ball. Japanese public broadcaster, NHK, helped them find Murakami.
The boy was very happy to get a phone call saying that his prized soccer ball had been found. The messages on the ball were from classmates at his old school as a good-bye gift to him when he transferred to a new school. Most of Murakami’s belongings had been taken by the tsunami, which makes him especially grateful to have his ball back.
The volleyball also had a name on it, and again Baxter and his wife found the owner with the help of NHK.
Shiori Sato was amazed when she was told that her ball had been found. She told NHK, “I think it’s a miracle.”
Items thought to be from areas of Japan hit by the tsunami are now starting to wash up on Canada’s west coast as well as Alaska.


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