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Japanese boat washed away in tsunami spotted more than a year later

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:27 PM EDT, Sat March 24, 2012
A Japanese fishing vessel that was believed to have been lost in the 2011 tsunami has been located near British Columbia.
A Japanese fishing vessel that was believed to have been lost in the 2011 tsunami has been located near British Columbia.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The ship is stable and poses no danger
  • A fishing boat swept up in a tsunami is spotted near Canadian islands
  • The owner has been identified, a Japanese official says
  • The boat is part of a giant debris field making its way toward North America

(CNN) -- A fishing trawler swept away more than a year ago by a tsunami off the east coast of Japan has been spotted floating near British Columbia, Canadian officials said.

"It looks fairly sound and has rust streak from being out there for a year," said Marc Proulx, the maritime coordinator of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria, British Columbia.

The trawler was stable and posed no danger Saturday, officials said.

The trawler is part of a giant debris field that was generated by the giant wall of water that struck the east coast of the island nation a year ago following a 9.0 earthquake, sweeping everything from cars to houses into the ocean.

The fishing vessel is about 120 miles off the Queen Charlotte Islands, commonly referred to as the Haida Gwaii. The islands are an archipelago on the north coast of the British Columbia.

It was first spotted by a Canadian military air patrol, and it has since been determined that it has been adrift without anybody at the helm since March 11, 2011, Proulx said Friday.

The Japan Coast Guard identified the owner of the vessel after being contacted Friday by Canadian officials, who were able to provide the identification number on the hull of the ship. The vessel, which was used for squid fishing, was moored at Hachinohe in the Aomori prefecture when the tsunami hit, said Toshiro Yoshinaga, a Coast Guard official.

The trawler is considered a navigation obstruction for vessels in the area, according to Canada's Department of National Defense. Mariners received a notice about the vessel's presence.

Canadian agencies are monitoring the ship for possible marine pollution, though there are no reports of leaks from the vessel, the defense department said.

CNN's Jake Carpenter and Junko Ogura contributed to this report.

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