Missing Taiwanese man found safe, well

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014

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Police are reviewing their systems after a search party was sent out to Aoraki/Mt Cook for a man thought to be missing who was found in his sleeping bag.

A Taiwanese man, 33, had notified he would be going to Mueller Hut on July 16 and returning July 17. When he failed to return, radio calls were placed to Mueller Hut as per protocol.

When those calls went unanswered a search party was flown to search the track in minus 3 degrees Celsius conditions.

Twizel Police Senior Constable Les Andrew said the calls had been worded "Aoraki to Mueller Hut" instead of using actual names.

"As a result he [the missing man] was hesitant to answer the radio as he wasn't sure if it was being directed at him," Andrew said. "In the summer [the peak time] there is a hut warden who knows what is going on and what to do."

He said the Taiwanese man had simply decided to extend his stay by an extra night and was found in his sleeping bag.

It was not an uncommon occurrence that people did not answer the radio, Andrew said. As a result they are considering either a change of wording, or extra training on radio usage for people going into the mountains.

The flight for the Alpine Rescue Team to find the man cost about $1200-$1400.

Andrew said the cost was inconsequential as the man was safe and sound.

"No arrests or charges were laid. Just a stern talking to about the search costs and time its wasted," he said.

Andrew said the Taiwanese man was very apologetic for the hassle.

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- The Timaru Herald

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