Boarding school runaways: father speaks of his fears for daughter's safety
The father of public school runaway Indira Gainiyeva has spoken for the first time of his fears for his daughter’s safety after she eloped to the Dominican Republic with her boyfriend.
Ravil Gainiyev, 50, said he was “worried” about his daughter, who celebrated her 17th birthday on Friday, because “anything could happen” to her on the island where muggings and gunpoint robberies are a major problem.
Five days after Indira went missing from Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe, Lancs., with her 16-year-old boyfriend Edward Bunyan, police have still been unable to make contact with them.
And there was confusion on Friday as local police insisted they had no record of the teenagers arriving at any airport in the Dominican Republic, despite Lancashire Police continuing to insist they were confident the couple were there.
Indira, who is from Kazakhstan, spoke briefly to an English governess earlier this week but has since turned off her mobile phone, as has her boyfriend.
Her father, who owns a chain of pharmacies in Kazakhstan, told The Telegraph: “We still haven’t heard from her yet, and we’re worried about her. She never mentioned any plans to travel, and if she had I would have talked her out of it.
“She’s a 15-year-old [sic] kid, she shouldn’t be doing that, anything could happen.”
Mr Gainiyev, who lives in Kyzylorda in southern Kazakhstan, said his daughter spends some of her school holidays in Brighton. Her governess, or guardian, lives in the south coast resort.
The teenagers are believed to be staying in the resort of Puerto Plata, where police have checked hotels and searched beaches without finding them.
Police in Puerto Plata have produced “missing” posters with the children’s photographs on them, which they have been handing out at a number of five-star hotels as they ask tourists if they have seen the runaways.
The posters have also been put up on trees, next to beaches and in bars.
Indira and Edward went missing from their school on Monday night and used a credit card to buy tickets to the Dominican Republic via Europe.
However, local police said they were baffled by how they had got into the country, as there were no official records of them arriving.
Officers said they had checked with immigration officials at all of the country's airports, and one said: “There is no record of them arriving by air, unless they did it with different names.”
Manchester Airport has previously said the couple flew into Puerto Plata and a spokesman for Lancashire Police, which has been liaising with police in the Dominican Republic via Interpol, the National Crime Agency and the Foreign Office, said: “We continue to believe that these students are in the Dominican Republic.”
The force had previously said it was making “good progress” in the search for the teenagers.
Edward Bunyan’s Spanish mother, who lives in Canada, is thought to have flown to the Dominican Republic. His father died in 2007, aged 85.
Although the runaways will have to answer to their parents, police have said they will not be “dragged in handcuffs” back to the UK, even though, as minors, they need their parents’ permission to travel abroad.
Officers have said it will for their parents to decide what happens to them once they are located.
Andrew Johnson, headmaster of Stonyhurst, said last night: “Lancashire Police seem pretty sure that they are in the Dominican Republic, but we are awaiting news, like everyone else.”