Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A Dutch shipping firm apologized after three German funeral urns filled with human ashes washed up on beaches in the Netherlands.
The urns were found on Katwijk and Noordwijk beaches throughout the course of five days by a schoolboy, a fisherman and a woman, The Guardian reported.
"We checked it out, because we thought it could have been a disguise for something else, drugs for example," 14-year-old Maarten van Duijn, who found one of the urns with his father said. "But it turned out really to be human ashes. So we started investigating - and the more we looked, the more bizarre the whole thing appeared."
Each of the urns were stamped with the dates of birth, death and cremation of the deceased under the aluminum lid and they all came from marked "For collection" from Greifswald crematorium in northern Germany.
The crematorium in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, about 470 miles away from the beaches where they eventually washed up.
The shipping company, Trip Scheepvaart, issued an apology to the relatives of those affected, saying the urns were intended to be used in a marine funeral but fell overboard.
Spokeswoman Silvia Roos said an employee was holding a wet box containing the urns and and accidentally let it slip over the railing in the ship.
Roos added the company had since buried the contents of two of the three urns at sea and planned to do the same with the third.
Public prosecutors in Germany said they were working to determine whether disturbance of the dead or any other crime had been committed as the country has some of the strictest rules in Europe for the disposal of human ashes.