PULAU TIOMAN - The search for Gareth Huntley has taken a tragic turn with the discovery of a body of a male in the Mentawak River.
The river is about 20m from a kayak storage unit in the Juara Lagoon chalet near the Juara Turtle Project, where the Briton had been a volunteer.
A search party was passing through the place while returning to base camp here when they stumbled across the body at 1.30pm, said Pahang Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Morni Mamat.
The search members consisted of commandos, police, fire and rescue department and Rela officers.
The body was said to be shirtless, but had shorts, socks and shoes on. It was stuck between pieces of wood. The face was unrecognisable due to decomposition.
"We found a body but we cannot determine if it is that of the missing person or not," said Morni.
A forensics team arrived at 8pm and an hour later, the body was airlifted to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan for post-mortem.
The area and river around the kayak storage unit has been cordoned off, while the road leading to the chalet and the turtle conservation camp has been blocked off.
Shortly after the discovery of the body, Rompin OCPD Deputy Supt Johari Yahaya was seen briefing Huntley's parents, Janet Southwell and Gerry Huntley, who appeared calm.
Official reports state that Huntley, a London accountant on sabbatical, arrived at the Juara Turtle Project on May 24, where he intended to serve as a volunteer.
On May 27, he informed the chalet management that he was going for a trek to the Lubuk Teja waterfall at around noon.
The journey was only meant to take one hour and 15 minutes.
Huntley failed to return by 5pm, prompting his friends and several villagers to organise a search for him.