NEWS

Scaled-down search for missing Canadian bushwalker to resume Friday

05/30/2013 09:34 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT
Australian police say they will resume a scaled-down search Friday for a Canadian hiker who has been missing in Kosciuszko National Park for more than two weeks.

Prabhdeep Srawn, 25, has been missing since May 13, when he went for a bushwalk in the park in New South Wales.

Srawn's family has been frustrated with search efforts by Australian authorities and the Canadian government's response. Srawn's cousin Tej Sahota took to Twitter Wednesday evening, saying authorities searching in Charlotte Pass are not sharing information related to the search with family members.

“That info is needed so our private search party could utilize [it] to maximize high probability errors and coordinate their plans,” Sahota said. The family is organizing private search parties and has offered a $15,000 reward for Srawn's safe return.

“These private research teams ask better questions in five minutes than we heard previously in five days,” Sahota said. “Great progress,” is being made, he tweeted, with two search teams being implemented and one “hopefully” on the ground soon. More of Srawn's family from Canada is also on the way to Australia.

Srawn was a Canadian Forces reservist from 2005 to 2011, belonging to the 31 Service Battalion's Hamilton Company. His immediate family moved to Brampton in 2012 after he left for Australia.

Scaling back the search

Police began a search for him May 20, but the operation was scaled back earlier this week as officials determined that the chance of finding him alive had decreased.

New South Wales Police said in an email Thursday that bad weather had hampered Thursday's search.

- READ MORE: Australia urged not to scale back search for Canadian hiker

The search involved a helicopter and nine officers, down from 15 on Wednesday.

The force had said Tuesday that the search would only continue for two more days, but on Thursday it said the operation would resume Friday morning.

Canada's minister of state for consular affairs says she has asked Australian authorities not to scale back the search.

“Canada has been actively working with Australian authorities to discuss the search mission and to convey the family's concerns,” Ablonczy said.

But Helene Laverdiere, the NDP critic for consular affairs, told the House of Commons during question period Tuesday that the government was doing “too little, too late,” to find Srawn.

“When his family reached out for help, the government ignored them,” Laverdiere said. “Mr. Srawn proudly served our country. Now our country should be doing more for him. Why won't the Conservatives listen to the concerns of his family?”

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