Japanese boy's football lost in tsunami found in Alaska

A football swept away by last year's powerful tsunami that hit Japan has been found on a remote Alaskan island.

Sixteen-year-old Misaki Murakami's name was written on the ball that was swept out to sea in March 2011.

The ball - given to him by his classmates in 2005 when he moved schools - was found a year later by US man David Baxter on a beach on Alaska's Middleton Island, 112 km from the mainland.

Murakami told Japanese media he was sure the ball was his and would be happy to have it back.

"I'm very grateful as I've so far found nothing that I'd owned," he told broadcaster TBS yesterday.

Murakami lives in the town of Rikuzen-takata, which was very badly hit by the tsunami.

On the day of the disaster the school boy was at home sick, but fled to higher ground when the earthquake struck, Kyodo News reported. His home was then swept away.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Baxter's Japanese wife translated the writing on the ball, which included a school name and a "good luck" message.

"This may be one of the first opportunities since the March 2011 tsunami that a remnant washed away from Japan has been identified and could actually be returned to its previous owner," it said.

The couple reportedly plan to send back the ball to Murakami. They also found a volleyball but have not been able to identify the owner, the BBC reported.

NOAA has been monitoring floating debris from the tsunami over the past year.
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