Gareth Huntley: search stepped up as family fear ‘time is running out’ for missing Briton

Both Huntley’s mother and girlfriend have arrived on the Malaysian island as search party is upped to 47 people

Malaysian authorities have promised that all available resources have been deployed in the search for missing Briton Gareth Huntley, as his family fear they are “running out of time” to find him.

Mr Huntley, a 34-year-old accountant from Hackney, London, has been missing from the Juarta Turtle Sanctuary on Tioman Island in Malaysia since Tuesday, after he failed to return from a short trek to a waterfall.

The search party has reportedly been increased to 47 people.

Kit Natariga, Mr Huntley’s girlfriend, arrived on the island today. She posted photos of the area on Facebook, with a message describing her anxiety to find her boyfriend quickly .

She said: “We’re finally here on Tioman Island. A tropical paradise view that would normally inspire for adventure cuts deeper the wound of Gareth’s disappearance. Every glance into the jungle I’m reminded he’s out there on his own for the 6th day.

"It’s 5:59pm, the air is thick with humidity and the mosquitos are coming out.

“It makes me anxious and I feel so helpless. The Malaysian and British Governments are being more proactive but the reality is he’s still out there… vulnerable, hungry, thirsty, tired, scared, alone and running out of time.

“Absolutely crucial to act fast and push the authorities and rescue teams.”

 

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond spoke with his Malaysian counterpart Mishammuddin Hussein on Sunday morning, who was told that all available assets were being used to find Mr Huntley.

Mr Hussein also tweeted about meeting Mr Hammond, and in response to a Twitter user’s plea to help find the missing Briton, the Malaysian defence minister replied: “Doing it. Informed Sec Hammond this morn in our bilateral” with a picture of both ministers speaking together.

The increased support to find Mr Huntley comes after his mother, Janet Southwell, put pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to urge the Malaysian authorities to increase their efforts to find her son, when initial search efforts were criticised.

Ms Southwell, from Bradford, is due to arrive on the Tioman Island on Monday.

Mark Huntley on Sunday said his family wanted to “personally thank David Cameron and Phillip Hammond for their reassurances”, calling it “a very big positive for us”.

“We are, of course, very grateful to the Malaysian people and the authorities for their work too. Everyone has been fantastic.

“We are told that local people went out to look for Gareth as soon as he was first described as missing – so without them there would not be a search mission. What we need to do now is for that work to continue and to find my brother,” he said.  

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson said Mr Hammond was “assured that the Malaysian authorities would do all they could to locate [Mr Huntley] and had already deployed significant assets including dogs, boats and a helicopter”, while the UK Government will work with the Malaysian authorities to ensure there is a comprehensive search.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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