A soccer ball that bobbed onto the shore of a remote Alaska island is likely the first salvageable debris from last year's Japanese tsunami that could be returned to its owner, according to the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Found on Alaska's Middleton Island, the ball bears writing that identifies its place of origin, said Doug Helton, operations coordinator for NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, which is tracking debris from the tsunami.
The ball is from the Osabe School in the Iwate Prefecture, an area that was hit by the devastating tidal wave unleashed March 11 by the magnitude 9 earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast.
"We're working with the guy who found it and the State Department and the consulate in Seattle to set up a process" to return the ball, Helton said.