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Survivor rescued 10 miles out to sea

A man of 60 was found alive 10 miles out to sea having spent two days adrift on the remains of the roof of his house.

Hiromitsu Shinkawa was picked up by a Japanese naval ship off the town of Minami-Soma. He had been set adrift as he and his wife gathered up possessions from their house after the earthquake and were caught up in the tsunami.

Mr Shinkawa lived in Minami Soma city in Fukushima prefecture, one of the coastal towns that took the brunt of the tsunami's force on Friday, and which is reported to have been all but destroyed by the disaster. Like many residents, he and his wife attempted to flee the area once the tremors began and fears of a tsunami began to spread.

The couple decided to turn back, however, when they realised they had left valuables in their house. They were retrieving their belongings when the floodwaters ripped through the neighbourhood, tearing the building from its foundations.

"I ran away after learning that the tsunami was coming. But I turned back to pick up something at home, [and then] I was washed away," said Mr Shinkawa. Remarkably, the roof of the house appears to have floated, and he was able to reach it and hold on as the building drifted. His wife was swept away in the torrent.

hnews@herald.ie