TODAY’S sweeping search of a Japanese ski resort with almost 100 volunteers yielded no result in the search for missing Australian skier, Scott McKay.
Locals and tourists banded together this morning, gathering outside the Seicomart supermarket in Niseko ski resort – on Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island – with sticks, poles, snow probes and their own dogs.
Mr McKay, 27, an IT business owner from Brisbane, was last seen leaving Niseko’s popular bar Wild Bill’s, in Hirafu village, around 1.30am on Friday.
Before the search began shortly after 9.30 this morning, Mr McKay’s father made an emotional speech through a megaphone to volunteers, thanking them for their time and effort spent searching for his son.
Japanese police also addressed the crowd through translators, thanking them for their help and instructing volunteers where to look in different areas of the village.
Niseko-Hirafu safety liaison officer, Derek Begley, said Mr McKay’s father would return to Australia in a matter of days.
"We’ve crossed off all possibilities in this search," he said.
"Scott’s disappearance is a mystery and is very unusual, because police have followed all leads and still come up with nothing.
"I think Scott’s father will leave for Australia via Sapporo very soon. His Dad was very appreciative of everyone’s help, and showed that gratitude before the whole search started. The police will do three more searches, but I don’t think there will be any more volunteer searches."
During today’s search, volunteers were encouraged by police to not only look in open spaces, but on verandas, under staircases and anywhere Mr McKay could have sought shelter after becoming lost in the cold weather.
Those who turned up for the search were divided into groups of four or five and instructed where to conduct their search.
The search continued well into the day today, with police dressed in protective uniform seen in town probing areas of deep snow, and helicopters flying over the village.
Police, army, fire, search and rescue and volunteers have searched Niseko and its surrounding areas in search of Mr McKay for almost six days.
Helicopters have also continually hovered low over the area, with skin divers searching nearby rivers.
More heavy snowfalls are forecast in Niseko this weekend, which may further hamper search efforts.