A HELICOPTER and visible police presence today mark the continuing, upgraded search of a Japanese ski resort for missing Australian Scott McKay.
The helicopter has been seen circling and hovering low over the small village of Niseko – on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido – in search of the missing Brisbane man, who was last seen leaving popular bar Wild Bill’s about four days ago.
Mr McKay, 27, an IT business owner, is said to have been partying with friends at night time hotspot Wild Bill’s, until he was last seen leaving the bar by himself about 1.30am Friday.
Hokkaido police have also been seen patrolling the streets of Niseko, conducting their own searches and coordinating efforts with the helicopter crew.
Police say sniffer dogs are also expected to be brought into the search, however this may take some time due to the lack of trained dogs in Hokkaido.
Residents and police have worked together side-by-side in an attempt to locate Mr McKay.
Large groups of people have spent the days since Mr McKay’s disappearance probing areas of deep snow in an attempt to locate him, among other search efforts.
Missing person posters have also been circulated heavily throughout Niseko.
Local authorities have said Mr McKay’s father and uncle arrived in Niseko around 11pm last night.
There has been heavy snow and strong wind for several days in Niseko since the time Mr McKay went missing.
Mr McKay is said to have been holidaying with a group of about 10 friends, and was staying at local accommodation Pension Fuu in the area of St Moritz, near the Gentem Cafe, about a 10 to 15-minute walk from the Hirafu bar he was last seen.
People have been known to fall asleep in the snow late at night after leaving local bars in Niseko, although so far there have been no fatalities.
Anyone with information that may assist investigations or searches should contact local authorities, or call the Niseko-Hirafu Safety Information Centre on +81 136 22 5878.