Reports a body found in France increase fears for missing Irish teacher (21)
REPORTS of a body found in Annonay, France have increased fears for missing Irish woman Eimear Noonan.
The UCC graduate from Clare (21) has been missing from her home in the French town since Wednesday.
Concerns for her whereabouts were raised when she failed to turn up for work as a teaching assistant in a local school. A local French news network reported the young teacher was initially reported missing by the manager of a guesthouse who became concerned.
Her family travelled to Lyon, a city north of Annonay, to assist the search while friends, and relatives in Ireland appealed for help on social media.
As the search for Eimear continues, local media reports in France claimed the body of a woman in her 20s was found near a viaduct in Annonay on Friday.
Fine Gael Councillor for Killaloe, Joe Cooney told Independent.ie: “I believe they (the Noonan family) do know (a woman was found dead) but nothing has been confirmed.”
He said the discovery of a body was “rumoured” yesterday evening but Eimear’s relatives have not confirmed any connection.
According to local reports, the body found on Friday has not yet been identified.
Le Dauphiné libéré, a local newspaper, claimed French authorities are treating the woman’s death as an accident but are still trying to determine the exact cause.
France Bleu, a network of local and regional radio stations, claimed that the deceased woman was found wearing sports gear and had no suspicious marks on her body.
A group of young people found the body on a busy road by a river known to be used by joggers, according to the network.
In Ireland, a special mass was held in Killanena parish church in Clare yesterday to show support for Eimear and her family as their search continues.
Parish priest, Fr Joe McMahon told the Sunday Independent: “We just want to pray for the family and be in solidarity with them. Getting together helps people to comfort each other a little bit.”
Local Fianna Fail councillor, Pat Hayes who lives near the family home said the community is “absolutely numbed” by Ms Noonan’s disappearance.
“There is real concern in the community for a lovely young woman. All our hopes and prayers are with the family at this time.”
Ms Noonan’s cousin said the young woman left her home with no purse or identification on her.
In a plea for help, Rosie Keehan wrote on Facebook: “My cousin has not been seen or heard from since Wednesday afternoon.
"She did not show up for work Thursday and Friday and made no indication that she would be absent.
"She appears to have left her apartment, possibly for exercise, and did not return. She does not have her purse, wallet or ID on her.
"If anyone I know has any connection to the South of France, please share."
Friends, close relatives and extended family have issued statements and shared information online in an appeal for anyone who saw Ms Noonan to come forward and aid the search.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing assistance to the family.