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Search resumes for missing snowboarder Martin Buckland after body found on Mount Bogong

Tuesday July 15, 2014 - 09:12 EST
ABC image
Searchers gather at Michell Hut on Mount Bogong during the search for missing snowboarders. - ABC

The search for a snowboarder missing on Mount Bogong has resumed after a body was found on the mountain yesterday.

The body of Daniel Kerr, 32, was found buried under more than four metres of snow about 500 metres from a camp at Michell Hut yesterday.

A second man, Martin Buckland, is still missing and police fear his body is buried nearby.

The pair were on a snowboarding trip and last contacted their families on Thursday.

Icy, dangerous conditions forced the 23 police and volunteer rescuers to camp out overnight.

After two days of clear weather, conditions are expected to deteriorate with rain and fog predicted.

Police are describing today's search as more of a recovery effort.

Inspector Dave Ryan from Victoria Police said it appeared the men were caught in an avalanche not far from their campsite.

"I've spoken with both families and it's a really, really tragic time for them," Inspector Ryan said.

"They understand the situation we're faced with. Essentially we are looking to try and recover the second body."

Inspector Ryan said an unknown signal led police to the area where they found the body.

He said searchers were tracking it in order to find Mr Buckland.

"There's every possibility the second male is not far away," he said.

"However, the snow depth at the moment is over four, four-and-a-half metres, which is making it a bit challenging ... trying to discover exactly where he is."

The search was sparked on Sunday, when walkers found the pair's empty tent.

Mr Buckland and Mr Kerr had planned to camp at Michell's Hut before moving on to Eskdale Spur, about half a kilometre away.

Ever-present risk of avalanches in remote regions

Inspector Ryan says avalanches do occur in Victoria but most people would not be aware of them because they occur in such remote locations.

"That's what these guys were chasing. They were chasing the snowboarding in a really remote part of Victorian Alps," he said.

"The risk of avalanche remains even for the searchers who we've got out there again today."

The head of the Mount Bogong Club, Robert Karoly, an experienced local adventurer, said the current conditions were more like Europe or the United States.

"In my experience it's not unprecedented but very rare that this perfect storm of conditions arrives, where we've got very, very cold temperatures and storm after storm arriving on the mountains," Mr Karoly said.

"There's a lot of snow and it's very cold. I don't think I've seen anything like this for 10 or 15 years."

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Scott Williams said the early snowfalls of the season were record-breaking.

"We had a weather pattern that has seen repeatedly cold outbreaks extend through the state, almost two every week from July up to now," he said.

"It's been some kind of record start in terms of snow depths to the ski season even though it was quite a late start.

"We haven't had this type of cold for quite some years, and this kind of weather pattern to bring it about was more typical of a run of years we had in the early nineties."


- ABC

© ABC 2014

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