Mother of missing backpacker flies to Malaysian island as search continues | United Kingdom | New


Gareth Huntley has not been seen since he hiked to visit a waterfall on Tioman Island[FAMILY HANDOUT/PA]

Gareth Huntley, 34, from Hackney, east London, has not been seen since hiking to visit a waterfall on Tioman Island, off the south east coast of mainland, Tuesday morning.

He told friends at the headquarters of a nearby charity project where he volunteered that he would return at 2 p.m. the same day but did not return.

His desperate family had pleaded with Prime Minister David Cameron to urge Malaysian authorities to do more to hunt their son, after friends on the island called the initial search efforts “laughable”.

But Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, who is in Malaysia to meet with the country’s defense boss, was reassured on Saturday that “all available research means” were being used to find the qualified accountant.

This morning Mr Huntley’s mother, Janet Southwell, joined his girlfriend Kit Natariga on the island to boost the search efforts.

“I absolutely want to see the area for myself, to get a feel for where it’s lost, where it’s missing,” she explained.

 Janet Southwell has arrived in South East Asia as the hunt for her son Gareth Huntley continues [FAMILY HANDOUT/PA]

“I just want to be there when they find him.

“I think he’ll want to see a familiar face when they find him. I’m obviously very worried. It’s going to be a good result, so I just need to focus on that.”

She added that, if possible, she would like to personally join the research.

Mr Huntley’s family hailed the “fantastic” attempts to find him.

His younger brother, Mark, said the family remained positive, adding: “We want to personally thank David Cameron and Philip Hammond for their assurances. This is a very big positive for us.

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

tioman islandTioman Island where Gareth Huntley volunteered [GETTY IMAGES/DORLING KINDERSLEY]

“We are told that the local population came out in search of Gareth as soon as he was first described as missing – so without them there would be no search mission.

“What we need now is for this work to continue and find my brother.”

Despite the efforts of volunteers who have dug deep into the jungle to search for Mr. Huntley, he has yet to be located.

A friend of the Briton, Kyle Neo Kai Fu, who lives there, had blasted the early search efforts, saying there were only five police officers in one boat.

He said: “The idea that there is real professional research going on is laughable.”

Gareth Huntley, a Briton missing in MalaysiaGareth Huntley [PA]

We can’t give up … time is running out

Gareth Huntley’s Girlfriend, Kit Natariga

But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has since said the Defense Secretary, who visited Tioman Island, was promised a series of search units had been deployed.

An FCO spokesperson said: “It has been assured that Malaysian authorities will do everything possible to locate him and had already deployed significant means including dogs, boats and a helicopter.

“The government will continue to work with the Malaysian authorities to ensure a comprehensive search.”

Mark Huntley added: “The FCO told us they have a good relationship with the authorities and will escalate the problem quickly.

“They said Mr Hammond had spoken to the Malaysian defense minister who said they were” taking this very seriously. “

Ms Natariga said on Saturday the efforts to find her boyfriend were an anxiety tonic, but admitted the time to find him “is passing”.

 Kit Natariga says “time is running out” to find boyfriend Gareth Huntley [FAMILY HANDOUT/PA]

Tioman IslandTioman Island in Malaysia [GETTY IMAGES/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP]

“It’s really hard to come to the island, we’re a bit helpless,” she told Sky News.

“We can’t give up … time is running out.”

She said her boyfriend was a backpacker and a seasoned adventurer who would take great care to make sure he was ready for excursions.

Mr Huntley’s mother had previously written Mr Cameron a letter asking for his help.

She wrote: “As a father you know we would do anything for our children so I humbly ask you to give a call to help my missing son Gareth.

“Please do the right thing, Prime Minister, and call on the Malaysian leader to insist that they are deploying real assistance to find Gareth before the time runs out. He is over there in the jungle and he needs help. “


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