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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hong Kong police find body of NZ pilot

The body of an Air New Zealand pilot who went missing a week ago while trekking in rural Hong Kong has been found, police say.

"At 2.30 this afternoon, police located a body of a man on a hillside. Officials contacted the family of the missing man Stephen Morrissey and have confirmed the body is him," a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

"Police officers found his backpack, watch and his camera at the scene."

The spokeswoman said authorities had not yet confirmed whether foul play was involved.

"We're looking into the matter," she said.

Morrissey, 51, was reported missing after he went hiking with his colleague, Captain Mark Apperley, on the Wilson Trail in the New Territories area of Hong Kong on August 4, according to a statement issued by the airline on Friday.

The two separated towards the end of the walk as Morrissey continued on while Apperley took a rest. They agreed to meet at the end of the track to catch a bus back to their hotel together.

Apperley did not see Morrissey again and returned to the hotel to get help, with police beginning a search using tracker dogs later that night.

Morrissey did not report for duty the next day, when he was scheduled to operate a flight from Hong Kong to London.

The search also involved more than 50 emergency personnel and helicopter support, the airline said.

Air New Zealand chief pilot Dave Morgan and a group of Morrissey's family and colleagues travelled to the southern Chinese territory to help with the search, according to the South China Morning Post.

"There isn't much to say, it's a personal tragedy," Mr Morgan told the paper before the body was found.

He said on Friday there was "no suggestion of foul play at all".

Air New Zealand could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.


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