A ship carrying human skeletons was discovered Friday after it washed ashore on the coast of Japan nearest to North Korea, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard believes that the wooden boat might have come from North Korea, but they have not yet officially determined the craft’s country of origin, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.
According to Fox News, which referred to the boat as a “ghost ship,” the discovery “could be evidence of desperate defectors trying a new route to freedom after despot Kim Jong Un has clamped down on those fleeing the Hermit Kingdom this year.”
Skeleton-filled ghost ship washes ashore on Japan's coast, Coast Guard says https://t.co/bSZ4TR4a3s
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 27, 2017
The Japanese Coast Guard received a report on Friday regarding the sighting of a dark boat drifting approximately 1,000 feet off of Miyazawa Beach in Oga. Poor weather conditions prevented the Coast Guard from immediately approaching the vessel, which was ultimately searched on Sunday and Monday.
Officials discovered eight bodies inside the boat, several of which were skeletonized. The Japan Times reported the remains were so severely decomposed that it was difficult to determine whether the bodies were male or female. The 68-year-old woman who initially spotted the boat told Kyodo News that rescue workers used stretchers to carry the human remains ashore.
“I was surprised to see the boat in such a bad condition,” the woman said. In a separate incident that occurred over the weekend, the bodies of two men were discovered after they washed ashore in Sado, Japan, along with apparent debris from one or more wooden boats.
Officials suspect that at least one of the boats came from North Korea since Korean letters were found written on remains of the craft. The two recent incidents are the latest in a string of similar occurrences that have been reported in recent years.
In addition to the human remains discovered this weekend, nine dead bodies and three living survivors have been found in drifting boats both on and off of Japan’s coastline in 2017.
According to the Coast Guard, 11 bodies were found along the coastlines of Japan in 2016, while 27 bodies and one survivor were found in 2015. A spokesman for the Coast Guard said that all are believed to have come from the Korean Peninsula.