Search for missing Belgian backpacker called off, but investigation continues
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    Search for missing Belgian backpacker called off, but investigation continues

    Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez disappeared in Australia on 31 May. Credit: © Belga

    Australian police continue their inquiry into the disappearance of Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez but announced they would not resume the physical search for the missing Belgian on Monday after the search was halted at the weekend.

    The New South Wales Police last week said that they were pausing the physical search for the missing student in order to examine the evidence collected since the Belgian backpacker vanished.

    Hayez, an 18-year-old student from Auderghem, disappeared without a trace on May 31. He was last seen at around 23:00 leaving a bar in Byron Bay, Australia, a popular destination for backpackers.

    “Police continue to analyze the information so far gathered and the search operation is studied every day,” a police spokesperson told Belga.

    Local volunteers and police have employed extensive resources, including drones and sniffer dogs. Specialized divers and climbers have also joined in the search for Hayez, after reports that he may have had too much to drink on the night of his disappearance led police to consider he might have gone for a night swim.

    Hayez’s family is being kept informed by the police, and his father remains in Australia. Upon his arrival, an emotional public plea made to encrypted messaging service WhatsApp led the company to say they would cooperate with the police.

    Despite news that police would suspend the search, local volunteers said they would not abandon the search, and continue to scour the area of a lighthouse, where Hayez’s signal was last detected.

    Since his disappearance was reported on June 6, two CCTV videos are the only concrete evidence of the missing Belgian that police have been able to gather.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times