North East Wales

Missing Arthur Jones: 'Extensive' search by Crete police

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Media captionPolice from North Wales have travelled to Crete to help in the search

A Welsh policeman says there has been "extensive searching" for a Denbigh pensioner missing in Crete.

North Wales Police's Gareth Evans is helping with the search for Arthur Jones, who has not been seen since 19 June - two days after he arrived.

He said the search had been hard as there was no "narrow search area".

On Monday police found Mr Jones's name in a war cemetery visitors' book, where he had hoped to lay a cross on the grave of a friend's relative.

Police appealed for British people who signed their names next to his on 18 June to come forward.

Image copyright Family via Facebook
Image caption Arthur Jones is a walker with 40 years' experience

On Tuesday morning, Mr Jones's family said they had located two of the people in the list and had passed their details on to the police.

Mr Jones, 73, a keen walker with 40 years' experience, told relatives he planned to go on a walking trip but had not left any details of where.

Officers were hoping Mr Jones may have spoken to some of the other tourists at the World War II cemetery in Souda Bay, near the city of Chania where he was staying, and told them of his plans.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Det Ch Insp Evans repeated an appeal for any of the people whose names appear on the visitors' book to contact police.

The detective also said he thought police in Crete were doing everything possible to find the missing man.

He said: "The brigadier [from Crete police] gave us a very thorough briefing of the areas searched and it's been very extensive searching in some very difficult conditions.

"There were search teams of police and volunteers out last weekend in temperatures of 41C. The nature of the terrain - it's a limestone area, there's potholes and gullies and scree slopes and there's limited scope for the helicopter to search due to the fact that we just haven't got a narrow search area to look at."

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Media captionThe former Welch Fusilier took part in a remembrance service in Denbigh in 2003

North Wales Police officers have said the search is being managed at a senior level by the Greek authorities, but extensive searches will be scaled down unless new leads come to light.

"It's quite a unique missing person's inquiry really in that he hasn't told anybody about what his plans are apart from speaking to people back home about some vague plans of walks he wanted to do," added DCI Evans.

"They are in some very mountainous terrain which is very difficult to search.

A view from Crete

BBC Wales report Aled Hughes has travelled to the Greek island to meet Arthur Jones' family, and to see how the search is being carried out:

Image caption Mr Jones was last seen at the hotel he was staying in

There are two sides to the city of Chania. Like in any Mediterranean holiday destination, it has a mix of the old and more than a touch of the new.

Restaurants, bars and supermarkets line the streets between the hotels and apartments. But, a few miles to the west, there's the raw unspoilt coastline where mountains plummet to the light blue beauty of the sea. That's the Crete that drew Arthur Jones here.

The experienced walker wanted to explore and he had a lot of options. The former Welch Fusilier could have gone in any direction, following the miles of paths and goat trails that snake their way up into the peaks. I didn't appreciate the task facing the search teams until I got here.

His family realise and appreciate this. But they're determined to find their loved one.

The yellow posters they've printed line the streets to the west of Chania centre. They wear their t-shirts with Arthur's picture and an appeal in both English and Greek with pride. And hope.

They cling on to hope.

Officers from North Wales Police have helped them this week. The detectives have spoken to the Greek police and say the search is being managed at a very senior level .All it seems that can be done, is being done.

But still, there are more questions than answers. Question about how and why a popular Welsh pensioner got lost, in paradise.

Anyone with any information should contact their local police force on 0300 3300101 quoting the North Wales Police reference number R103354 .

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