'Ghost Ship' Comes Ashore Carrying Human Heads

Japanese officials suspect they know where it came from
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2019 1:41 PM CST
'Ghost Ship' Comes Ashore Carrying Grim Cargo
A wooden boat is left after being washed ashore in Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture, northern Japan Monday, Dec. 4, 2017.   (Kyodo News via AP)

(Newser) – A shipwreck on the coast of Japan carried grisly cargo: five human bodies and two human heads, Sky News reports. Police apparently found the boat Saturday on Sado Island, about 31 miles northwest of the mainland, and are investigating the cause of death. "Five of the bodies were identified as men but the remaining two could not be identified," said a Coast Guard official, per the Guardian. "There have been similar cases but this was the first discovery of bodies in such a wrecked boat on this island this year." Indeed, over 150 suspected North Korean fishing boats turned up on Japanese shores in 2019, and this one had Korean numbers and writing painted on the broken hull.

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Word is that North Korean fishermen are going way out to sea to meet government fish-catching quotas—but their aging equipment tends to break down or sputter out of fuel, leaving them few ways to get help. The region where this boat appeared faces North Korea and has seen such "ghost ships" before, per the AP. At times North Koreans were found on board and got deported back home. In this case, five decomposing bodies were found, three with heads; two others had no head, and two heads lay apart; but officials are calling them seven bodies because they can't confirm the heads came from the headless bodies. (On Friday, North Korea sent the US a "Christmas gift" that never arrived.)

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