March 25, 2012
Fishing Boat Missing Since 2011 Tsunami Found
A large Japanese fishing trawler that was swept away by the devastating tsunami of 2011 has been spotted off the coast of British Columbia in the western part of Canada, various media outlets reported Saturday.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the 50-foot long vessel had been discovered approximately 160 miles west of Haida Gwaii, where it had been slowly drifting towards the shore.
Officials had identified it as originating from Hokkaido, Japan, and rescue workers said that there was nobody on board the craft and that there was no threat of danger to the environment.
The trawler, which had not been seen in over a year, was first spotted near the archipelago also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands by the Canadian military, according to CNN Wire Staff reports.
Canadian officials contacted the Japan Coast Guard, who in turn identified the owner of the ship using an identification number on the craft's hull, the CNN report said.
It added that the vessel had been used for squid fishing and that Coast Guard officials confirmed that it had been moored at Hachinohe in the Aomori prefecture when the tsunami struck on March 11, 2011.
According to CBC News, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said in a statement that the boat is expected to drift southeast, and given its current speed and trajectory, it would not reach the land for approximately 50 days. She did not speculate as to where it would do so, though.
"Scientists at the University of Hawaii say a field of about 18 million tons of debris is slowly being carried by ocean currents toward North America," the CBC reported, adding that the field "is estimated to be about 3,200 kilometers long and 1,600 kilometers wide" and could reach British Columbia within the next two years.
The tsunami was caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake -- which was tied for the fourth-strongest earthquake since 1900, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The tsunami itself is believed to have been the highest ever recorded in Japan, reaching 127 feet in some location, and combined the two disasters resulted in over 15,000 fatalities, with thousands of other residents missing.