POLITICS

Family not giving up finding Toronto-area man in snowy mountains of Australia

05/21/2013 01:24 EDT | Updated 07/21/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - Family members joined a frantic search Tuesday for a Canadian man with survival training missing for more than a week in Australia's Snowy Mountains region.

Prabhdeep Srawn of Brampton, Ont., hasn't been heard from since parking his rental car on May 13 in the village of Charlotte Pass in Kosciuszko National Park.

For the last two years, the 25-year-old has been a law student at Bond University in Brisbane.

But he is also a Canadian Forces reservist and former Australian military reservist and has had extensive survival training, said his cousin Tej Sahota.

"He's an armed forces member in the Canadian army," Sahota said from his medical practice in Cleveland, Ohio.

"So he's been through cold-weather training where he would have had a high survival instinct."

"We believe with that ... his chances of survival are a bit higher than a normal hiker."

Srawn is also considered an avid bushwalker, a term used to describe a wilderness hiker in Australia and has also hiked in mountainous regions of New Zealand.

Srawn's father, mother and cousin arrived in Australia on Tuesday to aid in the search being conducted by Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service officers, police and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Other family members and friends have also posted messages on social media websites hoping to glean any information they can about Srawn's whereabouts.

By late Tuesday, nearly 1,600 people had joined a Facebook page where the latest information is being posted. A couple of notes on the page, however, urged friends not to call police in Australia, who have been inundated with inquiries for the latest word on the search.

The search for Srawn only kicked into high gear on Saturday, said Sahota, who expressed hope that search and rescue teams in Australia wouldn't easily give up because of harsh weather.

The hiking route Srawn is believed to have taken is considered an easy walk in good weather.

But it can quickly become very treacherous in bad weather, which was the case Monday, when snow prevented rescuers from conducting a ground search.

Temperatures in the area have hovered close to zero for the last week, with the first snow of the season covering trails in recent days.

Forecasters were predicting nearly 2 cm of snow and temperatures falling to -3C by early Wednesday.

"They may continue the search today, depending on the weather, but they may also suspend it," said Sahota.

Should the search be suspended completely, the family said it would ask the Canadian government to pressure Australian officials to send in the military.

Canadian consular officials in Sydney have been in contact with the family to offer their assistance.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Prabhdeep Srawn was missing in Australia's Gold Coast region.