Search For US Poet In Japan To Be Scaled Down

By: Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press Email
By: Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press Email

TOKYO (AP) - Authorities have scaled down their search for an award-winning U.S. poet who disappeared while hiking up a volcano on a remote Japanese island because their efforts have yielded no clues for more than a week, police said Wednesday.

University of Wyoming assistant professor Craig Arnold, 41, was reported missing April 27 after he failed to return from a hike on the tiny island of Kuchinoerabu-jima, about 30 miles off the coast of Japan's southern Kyushu island.

Ten rescue workers, including policemen and firefighters, left for the day's search after sunrise Wednesday, down from 40 people through Tuesday, local police official Takashi Yamasaki said. They will be hiking up the volcano while combing through the area, he added.

Yamasaki said the poet has not returned to a local inn for nine days since he left for a hike.

"We have not found anything, including his belongings," another local police official, Yoshiyuki Kuzuhara, said.

A U.S.-based search-and-rescue organization sent four people to Japan to keep up the search.

The searchers from the 1st Special Response Group arrived Tuesday night. Their strategy will be to look carefully for Arnold's trail and then pursue any signs, said David Kovar, founder of the nonprofit organization based in Mountain View, California.

Japanese authorities say they had ruled out Arnold being either inside the volcano's crater or at the barren top of the mountain. U.S. military aircraft were involved in the search during its first day.

Kuzuhara said the mountain has no hiking trail, and the locals hardly go there.

The island, with a population of just 150 people, is covered by dense vegetation. It is about seven miles long and three miles wide and dominated by the 1,800-foot volcano, which last erupted in 1980.

Arnold had been traveling around the world, working on a book about volcanoes. He is the author of two award-winning books of poetry and was in Japan through the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission's Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship.

Since arriving in Japan in mid-March, Arnold had updated his blog "Volcano Pilgrim: Five Months in Japan as a Wandering Poet," almost daily. The last entry was dated April 26, the day before his disappearance, when he wrote about Miyakejima, another volcanic island off the southern coast of Tokyo.

Arnold grew up in a U.S. Air Force family and lived four years on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the U.S. military has several bases.
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Associated Press Writer Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming, contributed to this report.


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