Up to 20 million tons of debris from Japan’s tsunami moving toward Hawaii

Some 5 to 20 million tons of debris--furniture, fishing boats, refrigerators--sucked into the Pacific Ocean in the wake of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami are moving rapidly across the Pacific. Researchers from the University of Hawaii tracking the wreckage estimate it could approach the U.S. West Coast in the next three years, the UK Daily Mail reports.

"We have a rough estimate of 5 to 20 million tons of debris coming from Japan," University of Hawaii researcher Jan Hafner told Hawaii's ABC affiliate KITV.

Crew members from the Russian training ship the STS Pallada "spotted the debris 2,000 miles from Japan," last month after passing the Midway islands, the Mail wrote. "They saw some pieces of furniture, some appliances, anything that can float, and they picked up a fishing boat," said Hafner. The boat was 20-feet long, and was painted with the word "Fukushima." "That's actually our first confirmed report of tsunami debris," Hafner told KITV.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11 has left some 20,000 people dead or missing.

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