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Sunday 4 December 2016

Gardaí have deepening fears for vanished tourist pair

Sarah Jane Murphy and Jane O'Faherty

Published 27/08/2015 | 02:30

Members of the Coast Guard launch a search and rescue boat in an attempt to find the missing tourists Eiji Takagi and Ushio Azaki in Kilkee, Co Clare. Photo: Press 22
Members of the Coast Guard launch a search and rescue boat in an attempt to find the missing tourists Eiji Takagi and Ushio Azaki in Kilkee, Co Clare. Photo: Press 22
Missing tourists Eiji Takagi and Ushio Azaki

A major search operation for two missing Japanese tourists is due to enter a third day today, after bad weather hampered teams yesterday.

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Gardaí said they have great concern for the welfare of Eiji Takagi (63) and Ushio Azaki (61), who vanished on Saturday after checking out of a hotel in Spanish Point, Co Clare.

A CCTV image of the pair has been released by investigators in a bid to get more information on their whereabouts.

Inspector John Ryan, of Kilrush Garda Station, said that Mr Takagi and Ms Azaki arrived in Ireland on August 18 through Shannon Airport. "We know they travelled around the Clare area and they booked into a hotel on Friday night and booked out of the hotel on Saturday morning... and again stayed in the Clare area," he told RTÉ's 'News at One'.

"They haven't flown out. Their whereabouts at present are unknown and we are treating their disappearance with concern - great concern."

Their hired car - a red Hyundai - had been parked in Georges Head car park in Kilkee on Saturday. Gardaí believe it was parked there shortly after 9pm that night.

Retired head and founder of Kilkee Marine Rescue Service, Manuel di Lucia, said that he contacted local gardaí when one of his friends noticed that the car had been parked in the same location for two days.

"He rang me and I alerted the gardaí in Kilrush," he said.

The couple were due to fly from Shannon to Heathrow on Monday but failed to appear for their flight.

Insp Ryan said gardaí were not aware of any changes to the pair's itinerary before Monday.

It has been reported that Mr Takagi and Ms Azaki were last seen in a local hotel on Saturday evening, but this cannot be confirmed.

Coast Guard units from Kilkee, Doolin and Ballybunion have been involved in searches since Monday morning and will be continue their search today.

The operation is mainly focused on the shoreline north-west of Kilkee, close to Georges Head and Byrne's Cove.

The search and rescue helicopter from Shannon has also been deployed to search for the couple on land and sea. Mr Takagi is a joint American and Japanese national, while Ms Azaki is a Japanese national.

Meanwhile, a Chinese man who was swept into the sea off Kerry Head two weeks ago has not yet been found.

A spokesperson for Valentia Coast Guard said units on that operation had been diverted to Clare for the search for the Japanese couple. However, he added that the search for the angler would restart shortly.

Irish Independent

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