Police in Chile hunting for missing British university professor

·2-min read
Missing scientist Professor Thomas Marsh.  (Facebook )
Missing scientist Professor Thomas Marsh. (Facebook )

A major police-led hunt is underway for a British scientist who has gone missing in Chile.

Thomas Richard Marsh, an astrophysicist at University of Warwick, was last seen six days ago near astronomical observatory La Silla on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert where he is understood to have been working.

Police have admitted they are considering “all options” in their search for the 61-year-old, a keen walker who is said to have been very familiar with the mountainous terrain where he vanished.

He was last seen around 6am last Friday and all his clothes and other personal belongings including his passport are said to have remained untouched in a nearby rented room.

Searches using specialist equipment including drones and involving volunteers from a local flight club are only taking place during daylight because of the nature of the terrain.

Criminal investigators from Chile PDI’s police are understood to have been drafted in to help discover if the disappearance is accidental or could be linked to a crime.

Officers from the Carabineros national law enforcement police are also involved in the search.

Local PDI police chief Carlos Albornoz said: “Search work is being done on the ground and interviews and statements are being taken.

“Other organisations are also involved in the operation to try to establish as quickly as possible where this person is.

“Nothing is being ruled out and all lines of inquiry remain open.”

Bookseller and illustrator Tasmin Rosewell, a friend of his daughter’s who echoed news of the disappearance on social media, added: “My friend’s father, Professor Tom Marsh, Astrophysicist at University of Warwick is missing from the Observatory at La Silla in Chile.

“The nearest town is La Serena. He’s 60 years old, height 192cm.

“Interpol/Chilean Police are now looking internationally, and back in England.”

Mr Marsh is said to have been wearing jeans, grey shoes and a grey jacket when he was last seen. It was not immediately clear if he was out for one of his regular morning walks when he vanished.

His relatives are being kept informed of all developments according to local press.

La Silla Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Chile with three telescopes built and operated by the European Southern Observatory, an intergovernmental research organisation made up of 16 member states for ground-based astronomy.

The observatory is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located around 95 miles northeast of the city of Serena at the outskirts of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest and remotest places in the world.