UK & World News

  • 31 May 2014, 23:04

Missing Brit's Family Plead For Help With Hunt

The family of a British man who disappeared while trekking on a paradise island off Malaysia have urged the Government to appeal to local authorities to step up search efforts.

Gareth David Huntleydisappeared on Tuesday after attempting to find a waterfall in the jungles of Tioman Island, off the peninsula's east coast.

He told friends at a charity project he had been working with he would return by 2pmthat day but he has not been seen since.

A group of volunteers and local people have been into the jungle to search for the 34-year-old but have not found him.

Mark Huntley said "real action" is needed to find his brother.

He said: "We need real boots on the ground in Malaysia. We need real pressure from William Hague at the Foreign Office. So far we haven't heard a word from him or David Cameron.

"Gareth's been missing now for five days and he's alone in the jungle. This was a man working out there as a wildlife volunteer - he deserves our assistance.

"This situation of delayed searches is all too familiar. We call on David Cameron to make just one phone call to the Malaysian authorities and kindly request they step up the search."

Mr Huntley's mother Janet Southwell, who is on her way to the region, told Sky News the police response has been "incredibly slow" and her son's disappearance is "totally out of character".

"He just would not do it, he knows there are too many people who care and love him," she said.

She has written an open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to "do the right thing" and "make one phone call to the Malaysian leader to insist that they deploy real help to find Gareth before time runs out".

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Government is working hard with the Malaysian authorities to ensure a comprehensive search is carried out to find Gareth Huntley.

"The Malaysian police have already deployed a search team using dogs and boats, and the Foreign Office continue to work with the Malaysian authorities. An FCO consular team is en route to Tioman Island to meet the family when they arrive."

Twenty Malaysian police officers and a search dog are now involved in the search.

One of his friends who is in the area and doing what he can to help is Kyle Neo Kai Fu, who told Sky News he is certain his friend is alive.

"He knows a lot of things about self-sustainability," he said. "I think he's a survivor."

Survival expert Ken Hames told Sky News there are "lots of hazards" in the jungle apart from heavy rain.

"You've got deadfall from trees that have rotted, you've got hornets ? quite a lot of things to contend with."

According to one of the accountant's close friends, Malaysian authorities have so far failed to conduct a thoroughsearch.

Sophie Wilson told Sky News: "Nothing has come from the authorities. As far as we're aware, the police were informed and haven't been doing anything. They've been incredibly lethargic.

"They've said they're performing a search but all evidence on the ground suggests they're just not taking this seriously."

Mr Huntley, from east London, had been working as a volunteer at the Juara Turtle Project, a conservation charity on Tioman Island.

One of the other volunteers, Charles Fisher, said police were informed the day after he went missing but did not actively begin searching.

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