*Video from search day 7
The operation to find a Japanese woman, feared drowned off the Clare coast, is set to be scaled back following an intensive multi-agency search that has already lasted ten days.
Naval divers completed a third day of searches yesterday (Wednesday) but are due to pull out of Kilkee later today having found no trace of Ushio Azaki (61).
The body of her partner, Eiji Takagi (63), was found by divers from Kilkee Sub Aqua Club on Sunday in about 27m (88ft) of water near George’s Head.
The pair were last seen on Saturday August 22nd after they parked their rental car at Byrnes Cove in Kilkee however gardaí were only contacted about the vehicle on Tuesday (25th) when it was noticed that it hadn’t been moved in several days.
It’s understood that following a post mortem examination on Monday, authorities are satisfied that the body is that Mr Takagi, however no formal identification has been made. It’s also believed that the victim’s family, who have not travelled to Ireland, have been informed of the news by US Embassy staff here. Mr Takagi held both US and Japanese passports.
Yesterday’s (Wednesday) searches for Ms Azaki were concentrated in the Georges Head and Byrnes Cove areas with naval service personnel undertaking several dives during the day.
Irish Coast Guard volunteers also spent several hours carrying out surface searches in the the Kilkee Bay area for any sign of the missing woman or the pairs personal belongings.
On Monday, a shoe believed to belong to Ms Azaki, was found washed up on the beach at Kilkee by local authority workers.
A man, believed to be member of the Japanese/Irish society, visited the Coast Guard station in Kilkee yesterday and was visibly upset by the tragedy.
Later he walked the cliff trails for a time surveying the sea and shoreline with his binoculars while also observing the search from the clifftop.
It’s also known the the US Embassy has been in contact with the Coast Guard to express it’s gratitude for the continuing search effort.
Kilkee Coast Guard officer in charge Martony Vaughan said: “The operation has been scaled back but we will continue to carry out low water searches for a while longer. We will also carry out further surface searches if the sea conditions allow. We are very grateful to the Naval Service and all the voluntary groups and dive clubs who have been involved in the search.”
Clare Civil Defence have rejoined the search today and are carrying out surface searches in Kilkee Bay.