Come back, Craig…

The Japanese island of Kuchinoerabujima

The Japanese island of Kuchinoerabujima

Sick at heart over Craig Arnold’s disappearance. Thanks to NPR, CNN, BBC, local Wyoming media and all who brought pressure to bear on the Japanese government to extend the search. More later in between the crush of semester-end pedagogical meetings and drinkfests. Go to Facebook’s “Find Craig Arnold” page for updates.

Yesterday, Jessica Piazza posted the following backstory on Find Craig Arnold:

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 [Thursday 4/30]. 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.

Through the persistence of thousands of poets around the U.S. and internationally, the search has been augmented and extended another three days. Here’s hoping our guy is camped out under a bush and waiting patiently to be found, safe, sound, and cheeky as ever.

From Craig’s last post, dated April 26:

Crushed in the hands, the fresh leaves are sweet, slightly musky – not quite mint, not quite juniper. It is a clean, windswept smell, the smell of meadow, of England, of green, the smell of a road after rain. It is the smell of a world in which there is nothing rotten or putrid or sulfurous, a world in which all of those things have been rinsed away.

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