National/World

Japanese man saved from rooftop that floated to sea

Monday, March 14, 2011
In this photo released by the Japanese Defense Agency, Hiromitsu Shinkawa waves to rescuers before being rescued to a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on Sunday March 13, 2011. When spotted, the 60-year-old man was floating off the coast of Fukushimas Futaba town on the roof of his house after being swept away in a tsunami. He was in good condition.

In this photo released by the Japanese Defense Agency, Hiromitsu Shinkawa waves to rescuers before being rescued to a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer on Sunday March 13, 2011. When spotted, the 60-year-old man was floating off the coast of Fukushima's Futaba town on the roof of his house after being swept away in a tsunami. He was in good condition. (AP Photo/Defense Ministry)

Hiromitsu Shinkawa was pushed out to sea while he clung to the roof of his home after a tsunami swept away his wife. For two days, he drifted off Japan's northeastern coast, trying to get the attention of helicopters and ships that passed by - to no avail.

Finally, on Sunday, a Japanese military vessel spotted the 60-year-old waving a red cloth. He was about 15 kilometers (about 10 miles) offshore from the earthquake-ravaged city of Minamisoma, said Yoshiyuki Kotake, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

Shinkawa told his rescuers that the tsunami hit as he and his wife returned home to gather some belongings after Friday's quake. His wife was swept away, Kotake said.

"Several helicopters and ships passed by, but none of them noticed me," he was quoted by another defense agency spokesman, who refused to be identified by name, as saying.

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

Military officials said 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 today was the last day of my life," it quoted him as saying.

RELATED: Search the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) site to see if loved ones in the quake zone have checked in to say they are okay

RELATED: To help, visit www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the recovery effort

RELATED: Watch videos of the earthquake and tsunami as they happened in Japan

Emergency Information

For emergency information, assistance, and locating family in connection with earthquake in Japan: http://www.facebook.com/l/6b2e3a9CLMNbUwBsOw1jOL8d5aw/www.jhelp.com

Phone numbers in US and Japan:

202 559 4683
800 373 1110
0570 000 911
011 81 90 7170 4769
011 81 90 3080 6711

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