Two bodies – possibly belonging to a pair of missing Australian travellers – have reportedly been found in a burnt out van in Mexico.
Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman, both 33, were on a surfing trip in Mexico, travelling between their last known location at Topolobampo, to Guadalajara, but had not contacted family or friends in nearly a week.
Speaking to the media from Perth on Monday evening, a close family friend called for privacy for the families as they determined the fate of “two very much loved people”.
Mexican news outlet noroeste.com claimed that the charred remains of two men were found in the van, although authorities were awaiting DNA tests to identify them.
The travellers were reportedly passing through the state of Sinaloa – home to a powerful drug cartel, led by fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – when they went missing.
Family members of the two missing men, who were driving from Edmonton, Canada, to Guadalajara and scheduled to arrive on November 21, are en route to Mexico.
On Sunday, DFAT said a “tragic event” had occurred but would not confirm the deaths during an “enormously difficult time” for the family.
“The families and partners are aware the van in which they were travelling has been located by Mexican authorities and that a tragic event has occurred,” their statement said.
Mr Coleman’s girlfriend, Andrea Gomez, told The Guardian that she and Lucas’ partner, Josie Cox, would travel to Culiacan on Monday to try and identify the bodies.
“Everything points to it being them because the van matches, it had a bicycle,” Ms Gomez said.
“But nothing is confirmed yet. Josie is arriving from Canada today and early Monday we are going to leave for Culiacan to see the bodies and do DNA tests.”
Ms Gomez added that Ms Cox was bringing Mr Lucas’ dental records and she had “pieces of dreadlocks” from Mr Coleman to help the identification.
Earlier, Ms Cox, tried to harness social media in an attempt to locate the men, using the hashtag #finddeanandadam.
In a Facebook post, Ms Cox said the last confirmed sighting was when they got off a ferry at Topolobampa late on Friday, November 20 at 10.00pm.
She said Mr Lucas had been due to board a flight to London in a few days.
Kemel Osmanhodzic, a close friend of Mr Coleman, told triple j’s Hack he was hoping for the “world’s biggest miracle”.
He described his friend as someone for whom “there was no such thing as a bad world or bad people”.
“In the 10 years I knew him I did not see him in bad mood for more than two minutes,” he said.
He said if it turned out his friend had died, he “hoped it was quick”.
“You just can’t speculate. That’s the hardest part,” he said.
– with ABC