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Japan tsunami debris: Alaskan finds grateful teen's soccer ball

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
David Baxter | NOAA photo

According to numerous sources, an Alaskan couple has made the tragedy of losing everything a little less painful for one Japanese teenager.

David Baxter, a technician at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radar station on remote Middleton Island, found a soccer ball last week labeled in marker with what turned out to be the name of its owner and his school.

NBC News reports that on Sunday, 16-year-old Misaki Murakami, from the city of Rikuzentakata, Japan, stepped forward to claim the ball after hearing about it from news reports. He says it was a gift from his classmates and teacher to welcome him to the new school when he moved there seven years ago and is one of his most prized possessions.

He lost it when everything his family owned was swept into the sea by the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. He says he was at home when the warnings were issued and he escaped to higher ground with his dog.

The Murakamis are currently staying in temporary housing provided by the local authorities.

The blog post from NOAA that originally reported the find says Baxter also found a volleyball with writing on it, but that it wasn't enough information for the Japanese Consulate to locate the owner.

Read more from NBC, here.