New South Wales Police are holding onto a “glimmer of hope” that two young European backpackers are still alive as rescuers resumed search operations at a Port Macquarie beach.
Hugo Palmer, 20 from England, and Erwan Ferrieux, 21, from France, were travelling along the east coast before they were reported missing at the weekend.
Personal items – including towels, sunglasses and car keys – belonging to the tourists were found in their hire car at Shelly Beach on Sunday night.
NSW Police Chief Inspector Mick Alridge said dozens of officers would continue the search in an expanded area today.
The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) and surf life savers are helping police.
“It’s definitely still a search and rescue at this stage,” the Chief Inspector said.
“We’re holding onto that glimmer of hope [but] we’ll have consideration later this afternoon whether we move into a recovery or not.
“It’s been a few days now. We’ll do our best.”
If rescue options are exhausted, he said the search strategy would shift.
“If we can’t find them alive, [we’ll look into] where they will be and let’s do our best to find them.”
Chief Inspector Aldridge said “choppy” winds would make it difficult for search boats and divers.
He said Mr Palmer’s family had been informed and it was “just a matter of time” before the French embassy and consulate established contact with Mr Ferrieux’s family.
The Englishman has relatives in New Zealand who are expected to travel to Australia.
“It is a difficult situation,” Chief Inspector Alridge said.
“The boys have arrived in Australia, it looks like, last November with a group of friends and it’s had an impact on them as well.”
Mr Palmer had documented his travels with Mr Ferrieux and others across Australia on social media since November 1.
The last post was on February 16 and featured the same silver Commodore station wagon their belongings were found in.