Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Man swept out to sea on roof saved

Hiromitsu Shinkawa, right, waves to rescuers before being saved from the sea (AP Photo/Defense Ministry)

A 60-year-old man has been rescued by the military after floating out to sea on the roof of his home when a tsunami engulfed Japan's coast.

Hiromitsu Shinkawa was pulled from the sea after he was spotted waving a red cloth about 10 miles offshore from the quake-ravaged town of Minamisoma, a spokesman for Japanese forces said.

Mr Shinkawa told his rescuers that the tsunami hit as he and his wife returned home to gather some belongings after the quake. He said his wife was swept away.

"Several helicopters and ships passed by, but none of them noticed me," he is reported to have said.

Japanese troops used a small boat to pluck him from the ocean.

Military officials said Mr Shinkawa was lucky that mild weather and relatively calm seas enabled him to stay afloat for nearly two days, the Kyodo news agency reported.

"I thought (it) was the last day of my life," he said.

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