Japanese man rescued after 2 days at sea

Hiromitsu Shinkawa waves to rescuers before being brought to a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on Sunday, March 13, 2011. The 60-year-old man was floating off the coast on the roof of his house after it had been swept away by the tsunami.
AP Photo/Defense Ministry

A 60-year-old Japanese man was rescued at sea about ten miles off the northeastern coast of Minamisoma on Sunday, after two days of drifting in Japanese waters, the Associated Press reports.

The man, Hiromitsu Shinkawa, clung to a piece of wreckage from the roof of his house as he was pushed out to sea by the tsunami that followed a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake on Friday.

A military vessel spotted Shinkawa on Sunday and swiftly rescued him. Shinkawa was waving a red cloth to catch the attention of passers by.

"Several helicopters and ships passed by, but none of them noticed me," an unnamed defense agency spokesman quoted Shinkawa as saying, according to the Associated Press. "I thought today was the last day of my life."

Shinkawa said he and his wife were attempting to flee from the oncoming tsunami but had turned back to their home to retrieve something when it hit. Shinkawa grabbed onto a piece of his roof, but his wife was reportedly swept away.

"I ran away after learning that the tsunami was coming," Shinkawa told rescuers, the Associated Foreign Press reports.

"But I turned back to pick up something at home, when I was washed away. I was rescued while I was hanging to the roof from my house."

The AFP reports that Shinkawa, who was transported to a hospital via helicopter following his rescue, is in "good condition."

More than 1,000 people have died and hundreds more are missing in the aftermath of Japan's devastation.

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