One of the stranger finds amid the tsunami debris bobbing off Japan's coast also happens to be one of the more welcome ones. Japanese Coast Guard helicopter crews buzzing the sea for unlikely survivors - the disaster's toll now stands at 27,600 dead or missing - spotted this dog pulling a Huck Finn on a floating roof a mile off of Kesennuma, near the badly hit northeast part of Honshu.
The earthquake happened on March 11 and the animal was found on Friday - that's three weeks adrift, which is the upper limits of a dog's starvation tolerance and seemingly impossible without a source of fresh water. It's an utter joy to see the pup, named Ban, reunited with its owner a couple days later until you remember all the people who will never have such reunions, canine or human. Still, look at that tail go. (Like your dog/tsunami videos sadder? Try this one.)
The tsunami destroyed more than 206,000 buildings. Remnants of them, like Ban's roof, are causing an odd threat in the waters around Japan. Reports Bloomberg Businessweek:
Houses, cars and tractor-trailers washed out to sea by a 28-foot tsunami are clogging shipping lanes off Japan, posing a bigger challenge to U.S. Navy vessels and commercial lines than radiation from a leaking nuclear plant.
The debris has prompted Japan's coast guard to warn ships to stay about 60 nautical miles (110 kilometers) away from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled nuclear-power plant in Fukushima prefecture, north of the capital. That's almost four times as far as the 30-kilometer exclusion zone introduced by the government because of concerns about radiation.
Specifically, ships are avoiding the debris because it can bang against propellers and incapacitate them. Vessels traveling around the site of the tsunami are using side-scan sonar to navigate through fields of underwater rubble. The problems of this disaster are equal parts fascinating and terrible.