Costa Rica searches for missing French couple

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A weeklong search by Costa Rican officials for a French couple who disappeared from a beach vacation has failed to turn up any evidence and remains a "great mystery," a Red Cross official said Thursday.

Claude and Gerard Debois, both 65, have been missing since March 31, when they left their hotel in Puerto Quepos on the Pacific coast and headed for the nearby beach town of Dominical.

"The disappearance of this couple is a great mystery because we do not know what happened, if they were kidnapped, if they are alive or dead," Costa Rican Red Cross director Guillermo Arroyo told AFP.

An intensive search of areas around beaches, rivers and mountains in the area has failed to turn up any clues of the couple.

The car they were using was found Saturday on the road between Quepos and Dominical and some of their belongings were found nearby, according to French consul Remi Rouillon.

Arroyo denied a report on local television that the couple's passports were found in a dumpster near a beach, saying that the documents were still at their hotel.

Arroyo said Red Cross divers have been searching lakes and ponds of the Naranjo River in the area where the vehicle was found and that police helicopters have flown over the mountains and beaches in the vicinity.

"The problem is that we have not found a single clue of what could have happened," he added.

State security officials have asked for witnesses to come forward with information but have received no responses.

Spokeswoman Olga Rolan of the French Embassy in San Jose said Thursday that "unfortunately there is nothing new" about the fate of the couple, who had been scheduled to return home on Monday.

© 2011 AFP

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