Fishermen along the coast of Japan's Sado Island made a gruesome discovery on Wednesday, finding a wooden boat containing the decomposing bodies of at least five men washed ashore.
The small wooden boat, which had Korean characters painted on the side, is believed to be a North Korean fishing boat. The vessel had no engine or propellers and was badly damaged. Officials with the 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Niigata Prefecture told the Japan Times there was no fishing gear or weapons found aboard the boat.
According to CNN, law enforcement officials would not confirm how many bodies had been found on the boat, but stated that some bodies had decomposed to the point where only skeletons remained.
Some are speculating that the passengers may have been attempting to defect. In September of 2011, nine Koreans who were attempting to defect from North Korea were located 15 miles off the coast of the Noto peninsula in Japan. They eventually resettled in South Korea according to the Huffington Post.