TOKYO (AP) — Nearly four months later, the final victim of two deadly earthquakes in southern Japan may have been found.
Searchers on Wednesday saw what appeared to be a body in the wreckage of a car buried beneath large boulders on a riverside, the Kumamoto prefecture government said. They weren’t able to remove it and will try again Thursday.
Photos released by the Kumamoto government showed a yellow chunk of car so mangled it was unrecognizable, and police looking between boulders where it was wedged.
Kumamoto official Taishi Kajikawa said police have confirmed the wrecked car is a Toyota Aqua, the same model driven by a missing university student.
Hikaru Yamato, 22, was driving home in a yellow Aqua when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck in the early morning of April 16. The quake was the second powerful one to hit the area in two days. If Yamato is confirmed dead, it would bring the death toll from the two earthquakes to 50.
Kyodo News service said the wreckage is about 400 meters (a quarter mile) downstream from a bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after a huge landslide triggered by the earthquake poured onto it.
Kyodo quoted Yamato’s father, Takuya, saying he regretted hearing a body was found, but he was also relieved. “I hope it’s Hikaru,” he said.