Boy's football lost in tsunami found in Alaska

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Media captionSurvivor talks about recovering football taken to Alaska after tsunami

A football swept away by last year's tsunami and found on a remote Alaskan island is to be returned after its teenage Japanese owner was identified.

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

David Baxter found it more than a year later on Alaska's Middleton Island, 70 miles (112km) from the mainland.

Image caption David and Yumi Baxter alerted US officials to the discovery of the ball

Mr 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 on Sunday.

Mr 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.

The ball - given to him by his classmates in 2005 when he moved schools - was found by US man David Baxter on a beach in Middleton Island.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) , Mr 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."

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

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

The shrimping boat Ryou-Un Maru, which was traced to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, also drifted to Alaska.

The US Coast Guard sank the crewless ship, which was first spotted off the coast of the Canadian province of British Columbia on 23 March.

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