The family of missing backpacker Rye Hunt has raised doubts over reports of the Australian found alive in Rio de Janeiro.
The family said they are “hopeful but understandably cautious” over the reports. “Hi everyone. We are seeing the same reports in the media – that Rye has been found. We have no confirmation of this,” read the family’s statement posted on Facebook. “We are hopeful but understandably cautious of these reports. This information has not come via our official channels. We await news from Australian authorities. Please do not try to contact us by phone at this point, we are attempting to keep our phone lines free for official authorities to contact us.”
The doubts have been raised following the video posted by the Brazilian police on YouTube. In the video, police spokeswoman Elen Souta said that Hunt was found at Cotunduba Island, where he swam under the influence of drugs. The spokesperson claimed that he consumed drugs at a party and suffered a “psychotic episode.” According to News.com.au, police confirmed that the missing Aussie backpacker consumed the drug MDMA not in diluted water but in the form of powder and sniffed it.
The island where he was found is located off Rio de Janeiro and is an uninhabited one. According to Souta, a fisherman found a man on the island who claimed to be an Australian and said that he swam to the island. As soon as the police received information of Hunt’s sighting on the island, it deployed firefighters and dogs for the search on Monday and Tuesday.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it was not Hunt’s character to consume illicit drugs. “Rye works in the mining industry which requires regular tests for illegal substance used by employees and contractors. A test Rye has never failed,” they said in a statement overnight. “Use of illicit substances is out of character for Rye and his family will require significant evidence to verify these claims.