A MAJOR search operation to find a missing Witney woman has escalated in Guatemala, with drones and dive teams scouring the area.

Catherine Shaw, 23, disappeared from her hotel near San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, in the early hours of Tuesday morning and her family and friends fear for her safety. 


At 2pm a charity involved in her search confirmed that a jacket has been discovered in San Juan La Laguna which 'has been positively identified as belonging to Catherine.'

Oxford Mail:

Catherine Shaw's jacket has been found. Pic: Lucie Blackman Trust

Search efforts are now being redeployed and intensified in the area.

A mission to find Ms Shaw stepped up today with rescue dogs, a helicopter, drones and divers all working alongside local police, residents, tourists and Thames Valley Police to locate Ms Shaw.

Social media fundraising has raised £5,000 to support the search and a new website has now been set up for the same purpose, stating: "Currently costs such as search helicopters and more are mounting into thousands."

Lucie Blackman Trust, which supports families of people missing abroad, confirmed this lunchtime that it had received several sightings of people matching Ms Shaw's description and there were 'at least three travellers similar to Catherine' hiking in the area.

Oxford Mail:

The road leading to Eco-Hotel Mayachik', where Ms Shaw was last seen. Pic: Google Maps

The charity said two of these had been identified and urged them to get in touch.

Read again: Family 'desperately worried' about missing backpacker

The trust’s chief executive, Matthew Searle, said: “There are clearly a number of female travellers in the area that match or are similar to Catherine in appearance.

"We would like to speak to any of these travellers to both rule them out and to ask if they have seen or spoken to Catherine on their travels.

"If anyone knows of friends in the area that may be
mistaken for Catherine – please let us know.”

  • Anyone with information is urged to call the Lucie Blackman Trust on 0800 098 8485, +44800 098 8485 from overseas numbers, or email ops@lbtrust.org.

The trust also clarified the last recorded movements of Ms Shaw, confirming that she left the Eco Hotel in Mayachik, near San Pedro and San Juan, at 1.37am.

She then returned at 3.19am, but left again for the last time at 5.23am, heading in the direction of the lake.

ALSO READ: Helicopter and rescue dogs set to join search for Catherine Shaw

At this point, Ms Shaw had only a puppy with her, which was recovered shivering and alone at the highest lookout of Indian Nose, a volcano overlooking Lake Atitlan, San Pedro and San Juan, between 5am and 6am on Friday.

It was previously reported that she had a hand drum with her, however this was in fact left behind and has been located.

Reports that she had a guitar with her are also incorrect, while the trust confirmed she did not have a tattoo on her ribs.

Helicopters, rescue dogs and specialist divers are currently helping with the operation, with three search teams active around her last known locations.  

Divers have been searching the shores of Lake Atitlan at Las Cristalinas in the direction of San Pedro, a search taking nine hours. 

Oxford Mail:

Aerial view of the land around Lake Atitlan, including San Pedro. Pic: Google Maps

A helicopter with infrared technologies and drones are being deployed, but so far they have not located Ms Shaw.

Ms Shaw's father has travelled to Guatemala to join the search and is being met by British Embassy officials on arrival.

Lucie Blackman Trust revealed that search teams have encountered 'many challenges' including communication issues due to lack of power in the area.

It added that it was 'following up all lines of enquiry' and that many people have been in touch volunteering their help in land searches.

The charity said all messages are being assessed and, where appropriate, are being passed to police. It is liaising closely with Thames Valley Police.

Over the weekend, the 23-year-old's parents put out a video plea for information, saying they are 'desperately worried' for her safety and have not heard from her since Monday.

Witney MP Robert Courts has shared the appeal, posting: "This is a dreadful story and my thoughts are with Catherine's family at what must be an immensely distressing time.

"I hope and pray that she is found safe and well very soon."