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 (50 kilometers) off the coast of Japan’s southern Kyushu island.
Japanese officials had basically called off the search after a week–international pressure had led them to extend it past the three days they normally would have searched–citing a lack of leads or evidence. But on Tuesday, what the AP calls “a four-person team of American trackers” arrived in the country, and by Wednesday, they’d picked up the trail, according to the leader of the California-based 1st Special Response Group. But the evidence isn’t particularly encouraging:
The searchers followed the footprints to an area with deep ravines but couldn’t be sure whether Arnold entered them, Kovar said.
By that point, it was getting dark and the search was suspended for the day.
“The first order of business this morning when they start out is to see where his sign leads them,” Kovar said. “They’re going to follow the sign wherever it leads.”
Arnold had been in the country on a fellowship from the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission’s Creative Artists Exchange, working on a book about volcanoes. He’d been maintaining a blog, “Volcano Pilgrim: Five Months in Japan as a Wandering Poet“, while there–the last entry is dated April 26. The search effort is being supported by an ad hoc group of concerned people; you can donate to it here and here. There’s also further information and tributes to Arnold at the Poetry Foundation blog.