Monday April 27th (Japanese time) he arrived with the 2:50 pm municipal ferry from Yakusima on the island of Kuchino-erabu and checked in to the local "Watanabe" inn, the only one on the island. He was with 2 Japanese tourists who had reservations. He did not have one. (They must have helped him check in.) He had traveled to the island to visit the volcano, as he has been working on a book on the subject of volcanoes for some time. His plan was to stay only one night and leave the next day. (Craig has visited many volcanoes around the world in recent years as is very experienced with visiting them.)
He immediately left his 3 bags at the inn and departed around 3 pm on foot to the next village, taking only his walking sticks. He was wearing black or dark colors: long pants, a dark hat, a nylon jacket. His Japanese iPhone was on his person but has not been reachable due to inconsistent reception on the island. The exclusive provider of IPhone service, Softbank, has been contacted by the police in an attempt to utilize the built-in GPS capabilities of the phone.
At the village, someone with a car drove him to the entrance to the path leading up the mountain to the volcano. There are 4 paths to the volcano which are obvious and in good condition. He was taken to the entrance of a path next to a dam where evidence collected by the police suggests he ascended. His footprints have been found. The police have not found evidence of a return trip along that path. The area is densely forested until reaching the summit area, caldera, of the volcano where there is little vegetation.
The police stated that the path to that area is clear but that finding the path on the descent could pose problems so it is likely that he may not have found his way back to the path he entered by.
When Craig did not return to the inn by 8 pm, the inn staff searched for him by car, driving to the village. Unsuccessful, they returned to the inn and called the local fire brigade at 9 pm who responded immediately and searched until midnight.
Day 2 (Tues, April 28 JT) 5 police officers (under the direction of Mr. Kazuhara) arrived from Yakusima that morning with new assets: cars, search dogs, police persons, a helicopter. 40 total persons now working on this: 30 local fire reserve persons and 10 police persons and officials. They searched the trail he took but did not complete an exhaustive search of all 4 trails. One individual climbed all the way to the top. The area was circled several times by the helicopter and they also flew around the coastline. I contacted them directly at the end of the 2nd search day: 6:30pm. (5:30 am this morning, Wed April 29th U.S. time). They were debriefing and planning for day 3, with a plan to concentrate on the possible alternative paths down from the volcano that he may have taken by mistake and the surrounding area.
Day 3, the official required last day of the search, begins tonight. They are only required by law to search for 3 days. Extension procedures must be arranged with Mr. Kawahigashi and may require payment. Other than the helicopter, no higher level assets have been deployed at this time. Since the focus is on a "boots-on-the-ground" search and rescue (the forest makes visibility from the air limited) more people should be deployed immediately to assist.
Kuchino-erabusima (various transliterations possible shima, jima):
Volcanic island 14.5 square km. Spring weather conditions, temp drops at night but not to freezing. Has not rained since Craig went missing. Fresh water available.
reachable by municipal ferry from Yakushima
Police based in Yakushima
Hospital on Yakushima
Airport on Yakushima connects to Kagoshima, major city.
PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY INVOLVED:
The following people only speak Japanese with a thick regional accent:
The search and rescue operation is being led by
Town Officer: Mr. Kawahigashi
cel: 81-(0)90-7162-8404 / office tel: 81-(0)997-49-2100
(last spoke with him 7:05 am NYC time) They were preparing to debrief from
Day 2 of the search and prepare their plan for Day 3.
Day 3 begins tonight, Wednesday April 29. (= morning Thurs, April 30 Japanese time)
The Yakusima police officer on the case: Officer Kuzuhara: 81-(0)997-462110
he is on the neighboring island Yakusima, not the island where Craig is lost.
THEY ARE ONLY REQUIRED BY LAW TO SEARCH FOR 3 DAYS. THERE IS A NATIONAL HOLIDAY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. WE MUST APPLY ALL AVAILABLE PRESSURE TO MAKE THEM CONTINUE THE SEARCH AND TO CONVINCE THE U.S. CONSULATE TO ACTIVATE THE AVAILABLE AMERICAN ASSETS (OKINAWA) TO ASSIST WITH THE SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATION ON THE GROUND.
The process is currently stalled at the Fukuoka Consulate level with
Mark Baron (cel: 81-90-30143802) working under Margot Carrington
(Fukuoka Consulate office tel: 81-92-751-9331)
The Tokyo Embassy # is 81-(0)3-3224-5000 and the interim Charge d’Affairs is James P. Zumwalt
Local U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission Contact TOKYO:
Executive Director of U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission:
From: Eric Gangloff
Dr. Eric J. Gangloff
Japan-US Friendship Commission
1201 15th Street NW, Suite 330
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 653-9802 fax
LOCAL AMERICAN ASSETS:
Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa under the command of Pacific Air Force (PACAF)
NAVY: Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa:
Naval hospital: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nhoki/Pages/default.aspx
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