• Kyodo

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A search is underway for two Japanese sisters who went missing on the Pacific island of Saipan after their rental car was not returned on time and they failed to board their scheduled flight home, police said Wednesday.

They said there is evidence that the two tourists, one of them 33 and the other in her late 20s, had an inflatable raft in their possession, and that the raft has not yet been accounted for.

The tourists were last spotted by hotel staff on Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the Mariana Resort & Spa where they were staying. Their rental car was later found parked at a beach just north of the resort, with their belongings still inside, according to police and local media reports.

The women, whose names were not released, arrived in Saipan on Saturday morning and were scheduled to leave early Monday morning. The car rental company alerted the resort after noticing that the car they borrowed had not been returned on time, and the resort then informed the authorities.

Police said the U.S. Coast Guard was assisting with an aerial search conducted with local firefighters to find the missing sisters. A ground search is also being carried out, and police said a surface dive may be conducted off shore, pending further progress with the search.