Missing Briton's mother joins hunt

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Janet Southwell, pictured with her son Gareth Huntley, has flown out to Malayasia to join the search for him
Janet Southwell, pictured with her son Gareth Huntley, has flown out to Malayasia to join the search for him

The mother of a British man missing in the jungle has touched down in Malaysia to see the manhunt that has been launched to find him.

Backpacker Gareth Huntley, 34, has not been seen since he went on a trek to visit a waterfall in Tioman Island, off the south-eastern coast of the country's mainland, last Tuesday morning.

Janet Southwell, in a brief call home, said she was staying positive in the hope that she will be the "friendly face" he needs when he comes out of the jungle.

As he anxiously waits for more news, Mr Huntley's brother Mark, 30, said: "She is at base camp. She has spoken to officials on the ground. There are 103 people searching, with more potentially on the way. We have multiple helicopters and now there are speedboat crafts out searching.

"The key for us now is to remain positive. It could be that if we can keep people positive, it could make a difference. Everyone out there has been really good. If we can keep that going, then maybe the authorities will be kept positive and we will be able to keep their support.

"They have been very good and we would like more recruits to help with the search and to keep pushing this thing.

"Considering the situation, we are all positive. We know he is a very resourceful and intelligent person and if he can do anything to help himself, he will.

"There are many stories in the past of people being in the jungle for a long time but they have come out safely, maybe a bit hungry and physically not in good condition but they are safe.

"We need people to go out there searching on the ground. He may be injured but he is capable of surviving."

He said he might consider travelling to Malaysia at some point, adding: "Even though I am here (in Britain) looking after things, it somehow does not feel like I am doing enough."

Efforts to find Mr Huntley seemed to have been stepped up in the wake of pressure from his family and friends who had feared there was a lack of action

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has been assured by Malaysian authorities that "all available search assets" are being used to try to find him.

Mr Huntley, of Hackney in east London, who is originally from the Leeds-Bradford border, is on a sabbatical from his job in the City.

He had been working at the Juara Turtle Project. Fellow volunteer Charles Fisher said a group went to search for him after he did not return from the "huge wilderness".

They checked various different routes to the waterfall four miles away that he might have taken, while a further search the next day also proved fruitless.

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