Pilot spots two people on volcano where Briton has been lost

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The Independent US

Troops searching for a British tourist and his American companion missing for more than a week in the jungle of Nicaragua said last night they had spotted what appeared to be two people on the side of a volcano that the pair had set out to climb. But the authorities said there was no news on whether the pair were alive or dead and British officials said they were unable to confirm the sighting.

Troops searching for a British tourist and his American companion missing for more than a week in the jungle of Nicaragua said last night they had spotted what appeared to be two people on the side of a volcano that the pair had set out to climb. But the authorities said there was no news on whether the pair were alive or dead and British officials said they were unable to confirm the sighting.

The family of Nicholas Roth was waiting last night for any news as officials at the Foreign Office said they were investigating media reports from the capital, Managua, which said two people had been spotted and that a search team had been dispatched to the area. Colonel Adolfo Zepeda, a spokesman for the Nicaraguan army which is leading the search, told the Associated Press that two people - believed to be Mr Roth and his companion Jordan Ressler - were spotted by a military helicopter flying over the 4,600ft Maderas volcano about 60 miles south-east of Managua. The volcano is one of several situated on the island of Ometepe situated in a freshwater lake.

"We've prepared a search-and-rescue helicopter to bring troops into the zone, and if they're injured, we'll transfer them to the military hospital in Managua," said Colonel Zepeda.

Search teams with more than 80 people have been looking for the pair since last Saturday when Mr Roth and Mr Ressler, from San Diego, failed to return from a journey up the volcano, the sides of which are covered in thick forest. They had set out to climb the peak on the Wednesday and officials said there was evidence that the two had spent at least one night on the summit of the volcano.

Officials in Nicaragua had suggested earlier that the search teams - hampered by bad weather - could soon be forced to abandon their efforts, but the sighting renewed hopes that they will be found and the search has been stepped up.

Mr Roth's family, from Totteridge, north London, said the 28-year-old lawyer was an experienced traveller. He had previously travelled to Burma and India and was considered someone capable of "taking care of himself". He had met Mr Ressler, 23, in Nicaragua.

Last night, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said that British officials in Managua had so far been unable to confirm reports that the two tourists had been spotted.

Mr Roth's father flew to Managua last week to help the search, as did Mr Ressler's family. The latter decided to leave as they believed there was no hope of finding their son.

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