VICTORIA - The discovery of three shoes — two of which appear to be children's — containing bone and a "meat-like substance" have forced police to shut down a stretch of beach in the province's capital.
The discovery of the first shoe, which appears to be that of a child's, was made by a tourist at about 5:30 p.m. PDT Thursday at Clover Point, a residential area, said Victoria police Const. Mike Russell.
He said a middle-aged male called police who found two more shoes during a search. One of the shoes was also children's sized, and appeared to contain bone and a "meat-like substance," too.
The discoveries are not the first, as officials have investigated the appearance of nine feet on B.C. shores since 2007.
"It's still way too early to say what it is, or if it's human or not," said Russell of the contents of the shoes.
"They're still sitting on the sand, so we have to seize them, get them back to the coroner's and pathologist, let them take a very close look at that, and that will help guide our investigation."
Russell said a large contingent of officers was on the scene, including general patrol members, the canine unit, forensic identification team, and detectives, some of whom were working behind yellow police tape, searching for more evidence in the area.
"We need to go through, thoroughly go through, every square inch of that beachfront, check for any evidence, and then properly seize those three shoes off the beachfront, as well, get them secured, and then we'll be confident opening up the beach," he said.
Russell said he didn't know how long the beach would be shut down, adding the investigation could take days or weeks to complete.
After the shoes are removed from the beach, they will be sent to the coroner for examination.
When asked if the shoes could be Japanese, the result of last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami, Russell said he didn't yet know.
He also said it's too early to determine whether the shoes are linked to any of the other discoveries in B.C.
In February, the British Columbia Coroners Service identified foot bones that had washed ashore on Sasamat Lake in Port Moody, B.C.
The coroners service said the bones were those of Stefan Zahorujko, a 65-year-old man who was fishing alone on the lake when he went missing in January 1987.
But the coroners service announced in January that bones found inside a weathered boot that washed ashore on a Vancouver beach were not likely human.
In previous cases, police and the coroners service have said the feet apparently separated naturally from bodies in the water without foul play.
-- by Keven Drews in Vancouver