Gareth Huntley: Search stepped up for missing traveller

Gareth Huntley
Gareth Huntley
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The family of a West Yorkhire man missing in the Malaysian jungle have thanked those involved in the “fantastic” international search mission.

Backpacker Gareth Huntley, originally from the Leeds-Bradford border area, has not been seen since he went on a trek to visit a waterfall in Tioman Island on Tuesday morning.

He told friends at a nearby charity project that he would return by 2pm the same day but failed to come back.

The British Government has stepped up attempts to find the 34-year-old, while Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has been assured that “all available search assets” are being used.

Mr Huntley’s brother, Mark, 30, from Leeds, said the family were keeping positive, adding: “We want to personally thank David Cameron and Philip Hammond for their reassurances. It is 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 now is for that work to continue and to find my brother.”

Mr Huntley’s girlfriend Kit Natariga has arrived on the island. His mother, Janet Southwell, has arrived in Singapore.

Ms Natariga said time was “running out”. She said her boyfriend was an experienced adventurer who would take utmost care in ensuring he was prepared for excursions.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The Defence Secretary, who is in Malaysia, has spoken to the Malaysian Defence Minister this morning to confirm that all available search assets are used to find Gareth Huntley.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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