4 months after Japan earthquake, final victim may be found

FILE - In this April 16, 2016 file photo, the Aso Ohashi Bridge is seen collapsed in Minamiaso, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, following a powerful earthquake struck early in the day, barely 24 hours after a smaller quake hit the same region. Nearly four months later, the final victim of the two deadly earthquakes may have been found in the wreckage of a car buried beneath large boulders on a riverside. Hikaru Yamato, 22, was driving home in a yellow Aqua when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck in the early morning of April 16. Kyodo News service said Wednesday, Aug. 10, the wreckage is about 400 meters (a quarter mile) downstream from the bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after a huge landslide triggered by the earthquake poured onto it. (Muneyuki Tomari/Kyodo News via AP, File)
Police officers and firefighters work to retrieve a wrecked car that may hold the final victim of two deadly earthquakes that hit southern Japan nearly four month ago from a riverbank in Minamiaso, Kumamoto, southern Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. Japanese media say the vehicle is buried in sand and rocks down river from a bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after the second earthquake. Hikaru Yamato, a 22-year-old student, was driving home when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck on April 16. (Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News via AP)
FILE - In this April 17, 2016 file photo, the Aso Ohashi Bridge is seen collapsed in Minamiaso, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, following a powerful earthquake struck early April 16, barely 24 hours after a smaller quake hit the same region. Nearly four months later, the final victim of the two deadly earthquakes may have been found in the wreckage of a car buried beneath large boulders on a riverside. Hikaru Yamato, 22, was driving home in a yellow Aqua when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck in the early morning of April 16. Kyodo News service said Wednesday, Aug. 10, the wreckage is about 400 meters (a quarter mile) downstream from the bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after a huge landslide triggered by the earthquake poured onto it. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP, File)
Police officers and firefighters work to retrieve a wrecked car that may hold the final victim of two deadly earthquakes that hit southern Japan nearly four month ago from a riverbank in Minamiaso, Kumamoto, southern Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. Japanese media say the vehicle is buried in sand and rocks down river from a bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after the second earthquake. Hikaru Yamato, a 22-year-old student, was driving home when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck on April 16. (Sadayuki Goto/Kyodo News via AP)
In this photo released by Kumamoto Prefecture Government, police officers and firefighters work to retrieve a wrecked car that may hold the final victim of two deadly earthquakes that hit southern Japan nearly four month ago from a riverbank in Minamiaso, Kumamoto, southern Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. Japanese media say the vehicle is buried in sand and rocks down river from a bridge that collapsed into a deep gully after the second earthquake. Hikaru Yamato, a 22-year-old student, was driving home when the magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck on April 16. (Kumamoto Prefecture Government via AP)

TOKYO — 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.

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