Updated: 06/07/2014 22:52 | By Agence France-Presse

Body found on Malaysia island is missing Briton: police

A body found on a Malaysian island is that of British tourist Gareth Huntley who went missing last month, police said Saturday, in what his family called a "devastating" blow.


Body found on Malaysia island is missing Briton: police

A handout picture released by the #Find Gareth Huntley Campaign on May 31, 2014 shows Briton Gareth Huntley who went missing in Malaysia after going for a solo trek - by #Findgarethhuntley Campaign

Zakaria Ahmad, head of crime investigation in the eastern state of Pahang, said DNA tests showed that the body discovered on Tioman island Wednesday was that of the 34-year-old.

"We already received the confirmation from the chemistry department that the DNA of the deceased belongs to Gareth," Zakaria told AFP.

Huntley's family, who had pressed the authorities to find the young man after he went missing on a jungle hike, said they were heartbroken by the news. 

"There are no words that can capture the devastation we feel right now; no words that can capture the kindness, warmth and spirit that Gareth exuded; no words can describe the void he will leave in all of the lives he touched," the family said in a statement. 

Zakaria said the cause of death had not yet been determined, pending further laboratory test results and investigation.

Huntley disappeared on the popular resort island off the east coast of Malaysia on May 27, leading to a major manhunt and rising concern in Britain, including from Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speculation so far has centred on whether Huntley had suffered a fatal mishap in the island's rugged hills.

"We are still investigating," Zakaria said, adding police had informed British High Commission officials of the positive identification.

- 'Find Gareth' -

The partly decomposed body was found on the banks of a small stream some 100 metres (yards) from a sea turtle conservation site where Huntley had worked as a volunteer.

DNA samples were taken from Huntley's mother, Janet Southwell, who travelled to Tioman together with Huntley's girlfriend a week ago to press the authorities to find him. 

Huntley's friends also set up a Facebook page, publicising the hashtag #FindGareth, to urge on the search after they claimed authorities were dragging their feet.

Cameron's office said he discussed the case with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak on Monday and offered British assistance.

Violent crime against foreigners in the Southeast Asian country remains relatively rare, although a French tourist was found dead on the island of Tioman three years ago.

Stephanie Foray's remains were found buried in a cave three months after she went missing in May 2011.

A Malaysian shopkeeper is standing trial over her murder. He has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed her after she spurned his sexual advances.

Malaysia's government has already come under fierce international criticism over its response to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Relatives of some of the 239 people aboard -- two-thirds of who were from China -- have accused Malaysia and its national carrier of reacting too slowly and even trying to hide information.

The government has dismissed the criticism, saying it did all it could. The aircraft is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean but no wreckage has been found.

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