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One of the last images of Eiji Takagi and Ushio Azaki before they went missing.

Search still continues for missing Japanese tourist

THE search continues for a missing Japanese tourist eight months after the body of her travelling companion was recovered from the waters off Kilkee.

An inquest into the death last August of 63-year-old Eiji Takagi at Clare’s Coroner’s Court this week heard that the search is ongoing for fellow tourist Ushio Azaki, who also went missing.

The remains of Mr Takagi, who had a Californian address, were recovered in Kilkee bay in water about 27m deep on August 30 of last year, following an extensive search of the area.

The inquest was told that the pair were last seen alive when they checked out of The Bellbridge House Hotel and were due to visit Kilkee. Concern was raised when their hire car was seen parked at George’s Head for a number of days and a search operation was launched.

Along with search and rescue teams from Lough Derg, Ennis and Aughinish, local coast guard units from Kilkee, Doolin and Ballybunion were involved in the search, as well as Civil Defence teams, local volunteers and Limerick Marine Search and Rescue.

During the search, gardaí released CCTV images of the pair to the public in a bid to find them.

Tony Burke of Kilkee Subaqua Club told the Coroner’s Court that he discovered the remains of Mr Takagi while in the water at around 12 noon on August 30. He was unable to recover the body himself, as it was “wedged” and he notified the coastguard.

Garda Eoin Daly of Kilrush Garda Station gave evidence that the remains were brought to the local dive centre and Mr Takagi was pronounced dead by Dr Michael Harty. DNA samples and finger prints were taken and used to identify the deceased.

A post mortem concluded that Mr Takagi’s death was due to asphyxiation secondary to drowning and County Coroner Isobel O’Dea recorded an open verdict.

She outlined that “great efforts” had been made to locate Mr Takagi’s companion 61-year- old Ms Azaki, who is still missing. Mr Burke confirmed that the search is still ongoing.

Ms O’Dea extended the gratitude of the Coroner’s Court to the rescue services. “They do such wonderful work, reuniting families with their loved ones,” she said.

On behalf of the court, she extended sympathy to the family of Mr Takagi, adding that the American Embassy have been contacted and the family of Mr Takagi will be informed of the court’s finding.

Inspector Michael Gallagher also expressed sympathy to the family of the deceased.

Jessica Quinn

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