A ghost fleet of 11 ships containing the decomposing bodies of sailors have mysteriously appeared on the Japanese coastline, leaving authorities spooked and baffled as they investigate the cause.
As Japanese authorities struggle to identify the bodies, rumours are circulating that the bodies may belong to people trying to flee North Korea.
Four of the ships washed up in early November, and seven more have been spotted in recent weeks drifting in the Sea of Japan.
The most recent, discovered on Tuesday, was found off the coast of Fukui, some 250 miles north of Tokyo.
It has been impossible to identify the bodies and authorities have no idea where they might have come from.
The only clues as to where the boats may have come from are a scrap of material that appears to have come from a North Korean flag, and writing on one of the boats that seems to read ‘Korean People’s Army’.
Some believe that the vessels are fishing boats from North Korea, as the nation is trying to expand its fishing industry to boost harvests.
But the lack of modern equipment, including GPS locating equipment, on board the ships means that several have gone missing.
Others believe the sailors may have been North Koreans trying to flee the oppressive rule of leader Kim Jong-un.
Coastguards told broadcaster NHK that the crews may have been drifting for months on end without anyone knowing where they were.
The primitive design of the vessels suggests that they were not created in the West.
It is believed that the boats have come to light now, following recent storms which may have swept them towards the coastline.