Local community refuse to give up on missing Belgian backpacker

Local community refuse to give up on missing Belgian backpacker
Theo Hayez, 18, was last seen on May 31 in Byron Bay, Australia. Credit: Belga

As the investigation into the disappearance of Théo Hayez continues in Australia, the local community has launched a call for volunteers to continue searching over the weekend, signalling it is not yet ready to give up on efforts of finding the missing Belgian.

The news comes after local authorities said they were calling off the physical search but continuing to examine information so-far gathered. Belgian federal authorities on Thursday announced they were sending a police team to assist in the ongoing investigation.

The call was launched by local volunteers who have joined police in scouring the city of Byron Bay the hopes of finding evidence that could lead them to uncover any trace of Hayez since his disappearance almost a month ago.

"The more people on site, the greater the chances of finding clues," volunteer organiser Christos Tsesmetzis told local media.

Flyers with Hayez's photos, physical description and contact phone numbers will also be distributed as part of the volunteer's efforts.

'Baffling' disappearance

The Belgian backpacker was last seen on May 31 as he was leaving an establishment in Byron Bay, a popular Australian destination among travellers.

Weeks into the search, authorities and volunteers concentrated their efforts in the area around a Byron Bay lighthouse, where Hayez's phone signal was last detected.

But despite the extensive means deployed by local police to find the Belgian student —including drones, sniffer dogs, specialised divers and climbers— two security surveillance videos are the only piece of concrete evidence found since his disappearance was reported on June 6.

Hayez's father flew into Belgium earlier in June, and gave an emotional press conference in which he thanked the local community for their efforts and vowed not to leave Australia until his son was found.

Australian investigators have admitted to being “baffled,” after weeks of searching have turned up no substantial evidence of the missing Belgian, whose disappearance was described as out of character, as he was set to return to Belgium at the start of June.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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