Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Authorities have found at least five bodies in the remnants of a wooden boat that washed ashore on Sado Island in the Sea of Japan. They believe the boat is from North Korea.
According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, police found the bow of the boat close to shore in Sado City Friday. Investigators with the Coast Guard and police found several partially decomposed bodies inside the vessel during a Saturday-morning investigation.
Reports of the number of bodies vary.
According to NHK, seven bodies were found in the boat. But Japan Today said there were five bodies and two decapitated heads, adding that officials did not say whether the heads belonged to the bodies or were from two other people.
Coast Guard officials said the bow contained Korean characters and numbers painted in red, and they suspect it was part of a North Korean boat.
This discovery is the second washed-up ship on Sado Island this month.
Wrecked North Korean vessels, called "ghost ships," are a common discovery on Japanese shores, possibly due to high fishing quotas from the North Korean government. In 2018 89 wrecked or deserted boats were found in Japanese waters.
Officials say they wash ashore from North Korea in the winter after being blown off course by northwesterly winds.