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Search for elderly couple missing in bushland for two weeks suspended

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The pair’s burnt-out campsite and Mr Hill’s abandoned car were located by police last Friday.

Police have called off the search in Wonnangatta for a missing pair lost for 13 days in Victoria's high country, as a result of wet weather conditions. 

Russell Hill and Carol Clay, both in their 70s, were expected home last weekend but never returned.

Victoria Police have deployed the Air Wing, a drone, and dogs to search for the pair, but rain overnight and this morning has forced search crews to stand down.

The pair's burnt-out campsite and Mr Hill's abandoned car were located by police last Friday.

Informant Craig Gaffee said there "was a minor fire in relation to some of their equipment but their car is driveable and serviceable".

Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 and planned to visit various campsites along the Dargo River. He was making regular check-ins to friends via radio each night.

The 74-year-old was last heard from on March 20 via HF radio, when he advised he was having radio transmission issues. He was confirmed to be at Wonnangatta station.

"Mr Hill is an experienced camper and knows the area really well," Insp. Craig Gaffee said.

"However when he does go camping and he does quite often, he maintains daily contact, which hasn't occurred on this occasion."

Carol - a former CWA president - was expected to return to her home in Pakenham last weekend, which is where her car was located by police. 

Police have raised concerns for the welfare of the two people.

"Both are in their 70s, they are of good health but we have concerns because of their age and the amount of time they have been out of contact with family and friends," a police spokesperson said.

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Police are also looking into whether the couple went on this trip to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic, but currently they "don't believe so – certainly their family was expecting them back."

Police say they will reassess weather conditions this afternoon and decide whether to ramp up search efforts again tomorrow.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Sale Police Station on 03 5142 2200.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/wonnangatta-search-for-elderly-couple-missing-while-camping-victorian-alps-called-off/4d12a441-ecf2-45fc-9213-55f0f74a8e7d

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