Two years after Japan tsunami, debris spreads in US
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Two years ago, the yellow buoy was hanging as part of a restaurant sign in the coastal community of Minamisanriku in northern Japan when an earthquake triggered a tsunami and washed it - and so much more - out to sea.
About a year later, the buoy was found more than 4,800km away on a remote Alaska island, discovered by an avid beachcomber who, through sheer coincidence, was later able to find the owner, who had lost her home and business.
Hundreds of similar buoys have been found on beaches along the West Coast, a combination of the everyday trash that has plagued coastal areas for years and debris washed away by the March 11, 2011 disaster.
Distinguishing between the two is difficult. Just 21 items from among the more than 1,500 reports of possible tsunami debris have been firmly traced back to the tsunami, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The confirmed items include several derelict vessels, including a small boat found in Hawaii waters, large docks that have washed ashore in Washington state and Oregon and a motorcycle that washed ashore off the coast of British Columbia.