Belfast Telegraph

Revellers urged to help Ibiza search for Michaella, missing for 12 days on party isle

BY JOANNE SWEENEY

Another 24 hours has passed and the family of young missing Belfast woman Michaella McCollum Connolly anxiously waits for news.

It's 12 days since Michaella's family last heard from her, after losing contact while she was on a working holiday in Ibiza.

Kayla – as she's known to friends – left Belfast in mid-June for what was going to be a fun-filled holiday experience, with wall-to-wall sunshine, until September.

For the popular dancer and nightclub hostess – who is in her early 20s – the lively holiday island was to be a welcome break for her after a year as a photography student at Belfast Metropolitan College.

In Ibiza, Michaella (right) worked in Thompsons Garage nightclub, where staff and friends were "shocked" at the news she had gone missing.

She is just one of many young men and women who head to the party isle every summer, attracted by its reputation for club music and 24-hour beach culture.

The vast majority of Northern Ireland visitors enjoy their experience and arrive home safe and sound. Hopes are high that a massive social media campaign, which has kicked into action, will ultimately secure word that all is well with Michaella, who lives in north Belfast's Crumlin Road area.

She travelled independently to Ibiza and before she left home had used an online forum to seek shared accommodation while she was there.

The Belfast Telegraph has learnt that the last bar Michaella claimed to be working at on her Facebook page had not in fact employed her for the summer.

A staff member for the Bay Bar in the West End of San Antonio said that Michaella had "tried to PR for us for maybe one or two nights" weeks ago.

Spanish bars and clubs are known to employ outgoing young men and women to stand outside their premises to help encourage passers-by in for a drink or meal.

Michaella was said to have tried this for only a three or four-hour session "perhaps one or two times" at least four weeks ago, and had not returned for further work.

The West End of San Antonio is a relatively small strip of about three or four streets, where the main bars and clubs are located.

A source on the island said there were so many security cameras in San Antonio "that if she was around there, she's bound to be picked up on them".

One of her sisters posted a Facebook appeal for help in locating her on Tuesday night, which started a social media campaign for information on sightings of her.

It has now reached tens of thousands of people throughout the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Spanish islands.

The appeal concerning Michaella was also answered by social media businessman Dwayne Nolan (24), who tweeted the appeal to 66,000 followers on his Ibiza Club News page yesterday.

The Enniskillen man has been living and working in Ibiza for the past four years and is behind most of the social media entertainment activity on the island.

"This is the first appeal of this kind that I've heard about since I've been here," he said.

"This type of disappearance normally doesn't go on and any talk often turns out to have been blown out of proportion.

"I haven't heard anything more about this but a few friends from home have been in contact to ask if I can help.

"We are happy to do so as Ibiza Club News has the largest following on the island.

"Some of our followers are actors and DJs who would have over a million followers themselves, so the word will definitely get out there."

BACKGROUND

The sister of Michaella McCollum Connolly appealed for help in contacting her through Facebook on Tuesday evening, saying that she came from a "very close and loving family... we are all extremely worried that she hasn't been in contact." Friend Sophia Taylor (20), who comes from Carrickfergus, also said: "She's a lovely girl, very fun-loving and independent. I hope she's all right. She was so excited at going to Ibiza." Ibiza is the third largest of the Balaeric islands, after Majorca and Minorca, boasting 50 beaches and 300 days of sunshine per year.

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