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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Missing Japanese couple at centre of Coast Guard search 'did not show up for flights'

Sarah Jane Murphy and Denise Calnan

Published 26/08/2015 | 07:19

Kilkee Bay where the search is centred. Inset: Male American and Japanese national Eiji Takagi (63) and female Japanese national Ushio Azaki (61)
Kilkee Bay where the search is centred. Inset: Male American and Japanese national Eiji Takagi (63) and female Japanese national Ushio Azaki (61)

The air search for the two missing Japanese tourists has been called off for the evening due to bad weather and will continue tomorrow.

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The ground search will continue for the next few hours until tonight.

The officer in charge of the search effort, Martony Vaughan of the Kilkee Coast Guard, told Independent.ie that the air search will resume tomorrow with the Rescue 115 helicopter.

"We are resuming at first light, and weather permitting we plan to have an on-the-water search in conjunction with rescue 115 out of Shannon shortly after first light in the morning and we will continue throughout the day," he said.

"The search is ongoing with the involvement of Rescue 115, Ballybunion and Doolin Coast Guard units, coordinated with Kilkee CG unit in conjunction with MRFC Valentia.

Mr Martoni said that there had been no sighting of the tourists so far today.

CCTV image of male American and Japanese national Eiji Takagi (63) and female Japanese national  Ushio Azaki (61) released by An Garda Siochana
CCTV image of male American and Japanese national Eiji Takagi (63) and female Japanese national  Ushio Azaki (61) released by An Garda Siochana

"There's no point in surmising or speculating but from our position we're doing everything we can and we're treating it as a missing persons case.

"We've pumped major resources into this so far and will continue to over the next few days and in the future," he said.

Kilkee Bay looking north towards Burns' Cove (Photo: Google Maps)
Kilkee Bay looking north towards Burns' Cove (Photo: Google Maps)

Gardai are appealing to the public for any information they may have and said they are now 'very concerned' about the missing pair.

They have been named as male American and Japanese national Eiji Takagi (63) and female Japanese national Ushio Azaki (61).

Gardai report them to have checked out of hotel accommodation in Spanish Point, Co Clare on Saturday morning.

A hired car they were using was found parked in a car park at Georges Head car park, Kilkee. Co Clare.

The car was reported by a member of the public to have been parked at the same location since Saturday, August 22.

The couple were due to take a flight from Shannon Airport on Monday via Heathrow Airport for onward connection to Tokyo, Japan but failed to show up for this flight.

It is understood the couple were last seen in a local hotel on Saturday evening but this cannot be confirmed.

Meanwhile, retired head and founder of the Kilkee Marine Rescue Service, Manuel di Lucia, said that it was he who contacted the gardai in relation to the couple's abandoned car.

A friend of his takes a daily swim at Byrne's Cove and noticed that a 151-D Hyundai i10 had not moved from its parking space for two days.

"He rang me and I in turn alerted the gardai in Kilrush," di Lucia told Independent.ie.

Di Lucia said that helicopter searches have been taking place over land and sea in the KIlkee area, and the lifeboat was launched last night to join in the search.

Weather conditions in the area today are said to be clear to good but could disimprove as the day continues.

Investigating Gardaí are appealing for anyone with information in relation to the whereabouts of these people or to any person who may have seen their car prior to its finding in Kilkee ( A red Hyundai 151-D23003) to contact Kilrush Garda Station on 065 908 0550, the Garda Confidential Line 1 800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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