Sunday, 4 January 2009

Missing Kazakh woman's backpack found.

Monday 5 Jan. 09 1600 hrs. Latest update from NZPA.

Searchers looking for missing Auckland tramper Irina Yun have discovered her backpack -- dampening hopes of finding her alive.

The pack was found in the Dart River, about 300m downstream of the Dart Hut, which was Ms Yun's intended destination after leaving Mount Aspiring Hut last Wednesday, The Press reported.

Three ground search teams and two helicopters took advantage of a break in the weather this morning to carry on their search.

Gary Dickson, an alpine rescue leader involved in the search, said the discovery of the pack was "not encouraging".

Bad weather has dictated how often search teams have been able to make it into the rugged area to look for the lone woman tramper who has been missing in the National Park since New Years Eve.

The 36-year-old left Mt Aspiring Hut at 7am on Wednesday to cross the Cascade Saddle and was last seen 2-1/2 hours later halfway between the bush line and a spot near the saddle.

She did not arrive at Dart Hut as planned.

Bad weather has hampered the search for Ms Yun, who has lived in New Zealand since coming here five years ago from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

She climbed in the mountains of her homeland and has visited Mt Aspiring National Park once before.

She left her four-year-old daughter in Auckland where her former partner lives and travelled alone to the South Island on Christmas Day.

Sergeant Aaron Nicholson, the Wanaka police search and rescue controller, said the area where she could have been had now been searched. End of NZPA report.

This is a worrying sign. You never cross a river without your pack. Is she still down or upstream looking for a crossing? Where is she ? Let's keep hoping. praying and waiting.