Little hope of finding man alive

00:00, May 16 2012

Search and rescue teams have all but given up hope of finding tramper David Palmer alive.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said about 20 to 30 volunteers, and two dog teams, had been involved on Saturday. The volunteers had a day off yesterday while the dog teams took over the main activities. Although police were confident of finding Mr Palmer, Mr Woodbridge acknowledged his chances of survival were slim.

"There has been no further positive news this weekend," Mr Woodbridge said. "Miracles do happen, but the longer this search goes on, the chances of him being found alive become increasingly unlikely."

Mr Palmer was reported missing after going on a day trip through the Ahuriri Valley, near Omarama, on Saturday.

The University of Otago health science library assistant's vehicle was found at the base of the Dingle Burn Track. The search has been a week-long effort, involving dozens of people, and assistance from teams from Central Otago, the Catlins, Twizel, Tekapo, Fairlie and Wanaka.

Mr Woodbridge said the police had been in close contact with Mr Palmer's family.

"We've taken the family to the search site, so they're aware how very, very unlikely it would be that David would have survived this long," he said.

"But everyone involved is so determined to find David, I can't speak more highly of the volunteers, some of whom have taken a week out of their work to assist with the search."

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