All metallic objects have vanished from a remote Japanese island where a group of North Korean fishermen took refuge after their boat hit rough seas , according to a resident.
“Everything has gone. Everything. Including door hinges and a door knob, everything made of metal has gone,” said Shusaku Yoshida.
The 67-year-old is the caretaker of a shelter for local fishermen and said the facility’s lock had been broken and several items were missing.
“Two TV sets, three fridges, a washing machine, an oven/microwave, two stereo sets, a DVD/CD player, an electric saw, a stove (heater), coal, a motorbike and a generator,” he told private broadcaster Fuji TV.
“I was so surprised, I had to sit down,” he added.
Solar panels, an anime poster and blankets at the lighthouse on the island have also reportedly disappeared.
Japanese authorities are continuing to question nine of the 10 North Koreans first spotted last Thursday on board a rickety boat which was found drifting off the coast of Hokkaido island near the town of Matsumae.
The other is reportedly in hospital after complaining he had a stomach ache.
Some of the group have admitted “taking” some things from the small island, according to Japanese news agency Jiji Press.
Every year, dozens of boats wash up on northern Japanese coasts. More than 60 have been discovered this year alone.
It is thought their presence may be linked to a reported campaign by North Korea to send fishermen on longer journeys to satisfy government mandates for bigger catches.
It is unclear whether those on board intend to defect, or are simply unable to get back because of the poor condition of their boats.
Also last week, eight decomposed bodies washed up on a Japanese beach in a small wooden ship – raising speculation they could have come from North Korea.