• Kyodo


The Hyogo Prefectural Police continued to search Tuesday for 6-year-old Mirei Ikuta of Kobe, who has been missing since Thursday.

About 190 officers searched a park in Nagata Ward, Kobe, where she was last seen. It lies about 600 meters southeast of her home. They also searched vacant homes and rooftops in the area.

In adjacent Suma and Nishi wards, where a subway terminal station is located, police distributed fliers in hopes of gaining more information about the missing girl.

On Tuesday, Nagura Elementary School, which Ikuta attends, resumed classes for the first time since police launched their investigation Friday.

Children arrived at the school amid tightened security. Two police officers stood guard at the school gate and teachers increased the security along routes to the school.

The school held an assembly in which all of the students were told about the incident.

“We were just wondering where Mirei could be,” said 66-year-old Sachiko Hara, who dropped off her 7-year-old grandchild at the school. “It scares me when I think that it could have been my grandchild. I hope the (police) will find her really soon.”

According to the police and school officials, the first-grader left the school at around 2:45 p.m. last Thursday. About 15 minutes later, her mother confirmed the girl had left her “ransel” satchel at her grandmother’s home. This is near the Ikuta’s home.

Surveillance camera footage showed the girl walking alone past a nearby convenience store at around 3:15 p.m. She was reportedly later seen by another child in a park in Nagata Ward at around 5:30 p.m.

The police described Ikuta as 115 cm tall, with shoulder-length black hair. The day she disappeared, she was wearing a dress with a pink top and blue bottom. She may have had a white backpack with a stuffed teddy bear, according to the police.

They have asked anyone who might have seen the girl to contact Nagata Ward Police Station at 078-578-0110.

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