THE family of an adventurer from York who is feared dead after going missing on a river-rafting trip in India have spoken of their anguish.
Engineer Ian Turton, 42, was on an excursion along the Cauvery River near Bangalore, in the south of the country, with his friend Mike Easton when they disappeared.
The pair set out on Saturday but failed to arrive at an agreed meeting point and the local authorities were alerted on Monday.
A police search has been launched but hopes of finding them alive began to fade after their empty and damaged canoe was found on Wednesday, close to a known danger spot in the river which is populated with crocodiles.
Mr Turton, from Huntington, in York, has been heading a project at Tenneco Automotive, in Hosur, in Tamil Nadu, and last night his brother Nigel spoke of his family’s desperate hope he might still be alive.
“It’s getting harder and harder as time is going on,” he said. “Myself and my brother Philip have applied for Indian visas should the worst happen and we need to go out to deal with paperwork.
“Ian is a very resourceful, adventurous man so if there’s a chance of survival out there he would have taken it. I last spoke with him on Friday. He told me about his planned trip but I wasn’t worried.”
Mr Turton said it was the kind of adventure trip his brother lived for. “He is always up to something, he has been all over the world on different adventures but he has never been late to his rendezvous point. I know the Indian authorities aren’t holding out much hope.
“They are looking for bodies instead of people now apparently. I just hope they are wrong, to go on an adventure is like Ian but to not turn up is not.”
Mr Turton’s family were notified on Monday about his disappearance, after his Polish girlfriend, Ania Marcol, was told by his employer that he had failed to return from his trip.
Indian police have issued a local appeal for information or sightings of the two men, and have released pictures and descriptions of both.
Mr Turton said: “It’s game reserve either side of the river so if they have managed to escape the water that’s where they will be. The only problem is the fact that the army and police cannot search after four because it gets dark and the elephants go down to the water for a drink. The last thing you want to do is get in the way of an elephant that is heading to water.”
He said he hoped the damaged canoe may have been the result of an elephant attack on land and that his brother may still be safe.
Mr Easton works for Shell in Bangalore, and the company has chartered two search helicopters to look for the men.
Mr Turton said he was waiting for news from the Foreign Office. “It all looks bad at the minute but I know Ian, he is a resourceful guy, a survivor, if there’s a way out of this he will find it.”
The police who are searching for the two Britons found the raft around 90 km from Bangalore.
Sources said the canoe was discovered near a dangerous area in the river, where the water is particularly fast-flowing.
According to reports, the duo set out from their hotel in Bangalore on Saturday to explore the forest area in Mandya district, Karnataka state, and go rafting.
It is understood they asked a cab driver to pick them up at the hotel on the Monday morning and when he arrived to collect them found they had not returned. He informed Tenneco officials who notified the police.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman confirmed that two British nationals had been reported missing and said: “We are providing consular assistance to the family.”