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2 rescued from boat drifting off Aomori say they want to return to N. Korea

A wooden boat found drifting off Fukaura, Aomori Prefecture, on Jan. 13, 2019, is seen in this photo provided by the Japan Coast Guard.

AOMORI -- Two people rescued from a wooden boat drifting off Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, on Jan. 13 have told the coast guard that they came from North Korea and want to go home, the local Japan Coast Guard (JCG) office said.

At around 7:20 a.m. on Jan. 13, the Aomori Coast Guard Office received a report from a fisheries cooperative in the town of Fukaura that a wooden boat was drifting in the seas nearby. A JCG patrol boat crew rescued two people aboard the vessel.

"We left from North Korea, and would like to go back to North Korea," one of the two was quoted as telling the 2nd Regional Japan Coast Guard Headquarters during questioning. "We had been drifting since late December last year because we had engine trouble while we were fishing. Three others (on the boat) fell into the sea because of bad weather."

The two said they were hungry, but were in apparent good health.

According to the coast guard office, there were 225 cases of boats being found drifting or washed ashore in Japanese territory in 2018.

(Japanese original by Ayumu Iwasaki, Aomori Bureau)

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