Missing Briton Gareth Huntley: Mother flies to Malaysia to join the search

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Gareth Huntley
Gareth Huntley

The mother of Gareth Huntley, the British backpacker missing in the Malaysian jungle, has travelled to Malaysia "to be there when they find him", as international agencies continue the search for clues.

Her son, who is on a sabbatical from his job in the City, 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 arrived on the island this morning to support the search effort for Gareth.

She told the BBC: "I want to see the area for myself, absolutely, get a feel for where he's lost, where he's missing. Words and photo: PA.

"I just want to be here when they find him.

"I think he will want to see a familiar face when they find him.

"I'm obviously very concerned. It's going to be a good outcome, so I just have to focus on that."

She added that if possible she would like to join the search.

Mr Huntley had told friends at the headquarters of a nearby charity project where he was volunteering 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, who is originally from the Leeds-Bradford border, while Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has been assured that "all available search assets" are being used.

Mr Huntley's family have praised the "fantastic" attempts to find the trained accountant.

His younger brother, Mark, said the family are keeping positive as a result of efforts to find him.

He said: "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, arrived on the island yesterday.

She said efforts to find Mr Huntley were a tonic to the anxiety, but admitted time to find him was "running out".

She told Sky News: "It's really tough coming on to the island, we're in a bit of a helpless state.

"We cannot give up... time is running out."