The search for a missing Belgian backpacker in Australia resumed on Thursday, with divers joining the search as police explore the possibility that the backpacker may have gone for a night swim.
Additional reports that the backpacker had had too much to drink on the night of his disappearance dealt a blow to the confidence of local police.
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.
“We have not experienced this so far,” a local police member told Dutch-speaking daily Het Laatste Nieuws, referring to the fact that missing people in the area are usually found after “a few days.”
Search efforts are now concentrated around a lighthouse, where Hayez’s phone records led the search party last week.
Police said they will continue the search until “all possible causes” behind his disappearance – which was over a fortnight ago – are investigated.
The owner of the bar where Hayez was last seen told the Dutch-speaking daily that he had asked him to leave his establishment because the missing Belgian had had “too much to drink.” Hayez then proceeded to leave the bar alone.
Since authorities were able to obtain Hayez’s phone records, the search efforts are now focused on finding the 18-year-old’s phone, which they hope could breathe new life into the so far fruitless investigation.
Two surveillance camera videos are the only evidence of Hayez that police have been able to obtain since he was reported missing on June 6.
On Monday, Hayez’s father flew into Belgium and delivered an emotional press conference, on the same day that authorities announced the opening of a murder investigation.