Australian officials are still searching for Prabhdeep Srawn, 25, who went missing in Australia's Snowy Mountains eleven days ago. According to his cousin Ruby Singh-Sahota, crews have found a water bottle that might be his.
The bottle was found half full in the middle of a trail. It bears the logo of a scuba diving location where he went diving last December, she says.
“We're very hopeful he's leaving signs behind for them to track down,” Singh-Sahota said.
Search crews changed their search route after finding Srawn's laptop in his car. His internet history suggests he might be closer to Mount Townsend rather than to Mount Kosciuszko, 3.5 kilometres north, where crews had been looking.
Srawn hasn't been heard from since parking his rental car on May 13 in the village of Charlotte Pass in Kosciuszko National Park. The car was found that same day and police say they believe he got lost in the freezing conditions.
Srawn, who was born and raised in Hamilton, has been studying law at Bond University in Australia for the past two years. His family moved to Brampton in 2012.
Helping to search
Members of his family have travelled to Australia to urge officials to increase search efforts by calling in the military, which emergency officials are currently refusing to do.
“It seems like rescue efforts were very slow in the beginning,” Singh-Sahota said. “We know he's out there somewhere — we're just frustrated by how long it's taking to get to him.”
She says local police have refused help from experienced hikers who know the terrain and area very well. The Australian Federal Police did not respond to requests for comment by CBC Hamilton.
Canadian officials at Foreign Affairs and International Trade have been little help either, Singh-Sahota says. Amanda Reid, spokesperson for Canadian foreign affairs, told CBC Hamilton that consular officials have been working closely with local authorities and are ready to help as needed.
“Consular officers remain in contact with family members and are providing assistance,” she said.
But Singh-Sahota says that simply isn't the case. “The information we get is a lot quicker than they do,” she said. “It's not too useful.”
No privacy concerns
When pressed for information as to the status of the search or the Canadian government's role, Reid would only say, “to protect the privacy of the individual concerned we can release no further details on this case.”
Singh-Sahota found that odd, as well. “The family has no concern of privacy in this matter,” she said.
Srawn was a Canadian Forces reservist from 2005 to 2011, belonging to the 31 Service Battalion's Hamilton Company. This training, according to Singh-Sahota, gives him an advantage surviving in the wild, but it doesn't completely protect him from severe weather conditions.
“Every minute is so crucial and the weather is getting worse,” said Singh-Sahota. “Although Prabh is a very smart guy, and we know he has very good survival instincts. And if anybody can hold on, it can be him.”