The search for a missing Japanese tourist feared drowned in the sea off Co Clare has been formally stood down after 21 days.
The intensive multi-agency operation concluded yesterday (Tuesday) on day 21 with no trace of Ushio Azaki (61).
The body of her partner, Eiji Takagi (63), was found by divers from Kilkee Sub Aqua Club on day 6 of the search in about 27m (88ft) of water near George’s Head.
The pair were last seen on the morning of August 22nd when they parked their rental car at Byrnes Cove in Kilkee.
However, gardaí were only contacted about the vehicle three days later when it was noticed it hadn’t been moved for some time. A search was then mounted on the afternoon of August 25th.
It’s believed the couple had gone for a walk along the picturesque cliffs trails at Georges Head and Chimney Bay when tragedy struck.
The pair arrived in Ireland on August 18th and are known to have spent three nights in Doonbeg before moving onto Spanish Point where they stayed in a local hotel.
The pair failed to board a flight from Shannon to London on August 24th from where they were due to catch a connecting service to Tokyo.
While still not clear what happened to the couple, there has been speculation that they may have climbed down onto rocks below the cliffs and fell or were washed into the sea.
Yesterday, the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, carried out further sweeps along the coast from Loophead to Quilty.
The Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard undertook low water searches in the area around Kilkee while personnel from the Coast Guard station in Ballybunnion Co Kerry searched the south shore of the Shannon Estuary.
The search also involved the Coast Guard unit from Doolin as well as Civil Defence teams from Clare, Dublin, Laois and Tipperary. Drone technology and specially trained cadaver dogs were also used for the first time in Co Clare during the search.
On day 7 of the operation, a shoe believed to belong to Ms Azaki was found washed up on the beach at Kilkee by local authority workers.
Members of the Naval Service Diving Section spent four days in Kilkee where divers carried out searches over a wide area. Members of Limerick Marine Search and Rescue along with divers from the Kilkee, Burren, Ennis, Aughinish and Lough Derg sub aqua clubs were also involved in the search.
Kilkee Coast Guard officer in charge Martony Vaughan said: “The operation has been formally stood down after 21 days. We’ve been carrying out low water and coastal searches over the past few days and the helicopter has been out with us as well. Unfortunately we’ve found no trace of the missing woman.”
“We are very grateful to An Garda, Naval Service, Civil Defence and all the voluntary groups and dive clubs who were involved in the search,” Mr Vaughan said.