Makeshift campsite found as search for missing Belgian backpacker continues
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Makeshift campsite found as search for missing Belgian backpacker continues

Theo Hayez, 18, was last seen on May 31 in Byron Bay, Australia. Credit: Belga

Australian police on Thursday found a makeshift camping site around the area of a Byron Bay lighthouse, a discovery which could breathe new life into the search efforts for a Belgian backpacker who disappeared without a trace at the end of May.

“Police are said to have discovered a campsite in the bush around the bay,” a reporter for Dutch-language news site HLN said, citing a source “close to the investigation.”

The camping site was found around one kilometre from the area of the Byron Bay lighthouse, where the missing Belgian’s phone signal was last detected.

Théo Hayez, an 18-year-old student from Auderghem, was last seen on May 31 as he was leaving an establishment in Byron Bay, a popular destination for backpackers in Australia.

Reports of the camping site have not yet been confirmed by the police, who according to Australian media chose not to disclose the news of the finding to the public.

The efforts to find Hayez have been ongoing since he was reported missing on June 6, with police, sniffer dogs and volunteer search parties all working together to find the missing Belgian.

Divers recently joined in the search efforts, after police started considering the possibility that Hayez could’ve gone for a night swim on a night in which he was said to have drunk too much.

On Monday, after an emotional public plea by Hayez’s father, encrypted messaging service WhatsApp said it would provide police information on the missing student’s account, but that it could not access the content of his conversations.

The discovery of the campsite could constitute the first piece of concrete evidence found during the search efforts, which had so far yielded no results.

At the start of the search, police said Hayez’s disappearance was “completely out of character for him,” as he was reportedly in constant contact with his family and was set to return to Belgium at the start of June.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times