The body of a child has been found following an extensive land and air search in a remote part of Central Australia.
Police said the child’s body was located 120 metres away from a family of three who were found dead on Wednesday near an abandoned car on the outskirts of the community of Willowra, 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.
The bodies of a young family – a 19-year-old man, a 19-year-old woman and a three-year-old boy – were found on Wednesday about 4.5 kilometres from their broken-down vehicle.
On Thursday morning, police said a 12-year-old boy, who they believed was with the group, was not found among the dead.
Following an extensive land and air search in the Willowra area, a child’s body was found on Thursday afternoon.
“A formal identification of the child is yet to be undertaken and as such, police are unable to confirm it is the body of the 12-year-old boy,” NT Police said in a statement.
“The body of the child was located 120 metres from the family, found dead on Jarra Jarra Road yesterday.”
Southern Desert Division Superintendent Jody Nobbs said police were yet to rule out that there may have been more passengers in the vehicle.
“Although police have no information that suggests there were other passengers in the car, we will continue a precautionary land and air search until we are satisfied that all areas of interest have been sufficiently canvassed,” he said.
Family may have perished in heat
NT Police were alerted to the deaths, which were not believed to be suspicious, when a person walked into a local health clinic and raised the alarm just after midday on Wednesday.
Superintendent Nobbs said the deceased were last seen leaving the community of Willowra on November 2.
He said they were heading towards the Jarra Jarra community, 18 kilometres from where their vehicle was found.
The three bodies discovered on Wednesday were those of a young family, but police have not said if the 12-year-old boy, who was the subject of land and air searches, was also related.
Remnants of food and water were found in the car, and earlier on Thursday, police said the family may have walked away from the vehicle in “extreme weather” and become “caught out”.
It is not known how the car broke down or when it likely broke down.
The deaths came less than a fortnight after two other people died from suspected exposure and dehydration in Northern Australia.
On Saturday, Daniel Price died on an isolated track near the Gibb River Road, in the Kimberley.
On October 27, a 27-year-old man died during a hike in Western Australia’s mid-west region.