Australian police say they have scaled back the search for a Canadian hiker missing for more than two weeks in the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales.
The move came even as the family and friends of Prabhdeep Srawn pleaded with Australian authorities to expand the search for the 25-year-old hiker from Brampton, Ont.
A Canadian military reservist, Srawn was last seen May 13, when he drove to a village in the park where he intended to go for a bushwalk.
A search operation only began on May 20 when it was discovered he was missing.
In a release early Tuesday, New South Wales Police said they made the “tough decision” to scale down the operation after consulting medical experts and examining the conditions and weather forecasts for the area.
They pointed out that for more than a week, police with the assistance of several state and federal agencies had conducted an extensive search for Srawn.
“Despite eight days of searching, emergency services have not been able to locate any sign of Mr. Srawn.”
Supt. Shane Box, a local area commander, said he and other senior officers have been in constant contact with Srawn’s family and the decision to scale back the search was not made lightly.
“Today I spoke with Mr. Srawn’s family and made the tough decision to scale back the search.”
He said the force had conducted extensive searches over some of the hardest and most remote and unforgiving terrain in freezing temperatures.
“Sadly there has not been any sign of Prabhdeep,” said Box.
Srawn’s family had earlier complained that the number of searchers being employed was far too small to cover the 7,000 square kilometres.
“There comes a time when a decision has to be made over how long you keep searching,” Box said.
But he stressed that police have not given up looking for Srawn and a scaled-back search will continue over the next two days.
— By Abdul Latheef in Toronto.