Searches of Italian mountain reveal no trace of missing Irish woman (82)


ALMOST A week after her disappearance, there was still no trace yesterday of Irish woman Maireád Geary (82), who went missing last Friday near the northern Italian holiday resort of Stresa on Lago Maggiore, close to the Italian-Swiss border.

Ms Geary, who was on holiday in Stresa with a group of 40 pensioners and retirees from Limerick, left her hotel last Friday saying she intended to take the cable car up to the top of nearby Mount Mottarone, a popular viewing spot.

When she got to the top of the cable car ride, she set off on her own for a walk and has not been seen since.

Police sources in Stresa confirmed yesterday that the search for Ms Geary continues for the time being but they were unwilling to speculate as to how much longer.

Helicopter searches and police, firefighters and mountain rescue teams have combed the area around the Mottarone without finding a trace of Ms Geary.

Police say the area around the Mottarone contains some rough terrain.

It is possible that Ms Geary had an accident whilst out walking, especially if she veered off the trails.

Ms Geary's family says she is a regular walker and in good shape for a woman of her age.

Both the Limerick party and those members of the Geary family who had flown out from Ireland to help with the search have now returned to Ireland.

Jeff Geary, son of Maireád, told The Irish Timesyesterday that police and rescue officials had advised them to go home, since their presence in Stresa served little purpose and did little to help the search.

Mr Geary, too, was unable to offer any explanation nor indeed speculation as to what might have happened his mother.

He remains hopeful that his mother will be found but like everyone else acknowledges that the more time passes without her being found, the worse the situation looks.

Speaking on his return to Ireland yesterday, Mr Geary said: "We remain optimistic but what can you do.

"All I can say is that the support we got from the carabinieri, from the mountain rescue people, from the hotel staff and everyone else there was first class, they couldn't have been better."