Missing man found ‘resting under a tree’ after 17 days in the outback

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An indigenous Australian man who vanished into the outback more than two weeks ago has been found “resting under a tree”.

Harold Morton, 44, was reported missing by relatives on the evening of 1 February.

He was last seen that day leaving his home in Ampilatwatja, a remote indigenous settlement in Australia’s Northern Territory, where temperatures have regularly exceeded 40C in the recent heatwave.

Although Morton was known to be an experienced outdoorsman, the dangerous heat in the desert area quickly led to concerns for his welfare, ABC News reports.

After four days, police called off their aerial and ground searches, stating that “due to the extreme weather conditions in the region, our hopes of finding Mr Morton alive and in good health are diminishing”.

However, nearly two weeks after authorities abandoned the search, a family member who had continued to look for Morton spotted him “resting under a tree” in the wilderness around 40 miles north-east of Ampilatwaja, Alice Springs News Online reports.

A police spokesperson told ABC that Morton was “visibly tired and gaunt but seemed well” when he was found.

Morton is now “back home and recuperating with family”, The Australian reports.

His brother, Nigel Morton, told the newspaper that he had survived by eating bush tucker, the native wildlife of the Australian outback which traditionally made up the diet of the country’s original inhabitants.

“There’s a lot of bush tucker out there that to non-indigenous people might not be obvious,” he said.

“He knows how to survive – that’s our country.”

Police said they will interview Morton once he has recovered to learn more about his 17-day disappearance, including how he was able to survive in the extreme conditions. 

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