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Weather hampers search for hiker missing near Mt Buller

“The rain has impacted visibility and made conditions very hard in the field,” he said.

“In terms of using the airwing, there’s basically zero visibility, but we’ve had off-road bikes helping with the search.”

He said Mr Becker had notified local police of his intention to hike prior to setting out.

“He was well equipped and prepared for the hike. He had sufficient clothes, food and equipment for the seven-day hike and had notified his family and local police as to where he intended to go.

“We conducted a vehicle search this morning hoping that might shed some light on where he may have gone, but unfortunately it turned up nothing.”

“The search so far has concentrated on the walking paths he nominated that he’d be using and the local huts. The huts have a sign-in book, but he hasn’t signed-in at any of them.”

Mr Becker called family from the Valejo Ganther Hut on 26 October, saying he intended to head to Mount Stirling.

Police say it’s not clear what route he was planning to take to get there. He was due back at his vehicle on 29 October, but was reported missing after he did not return.

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His sister Karen Becker said on social media the man’s family was hoping the lack of contact was due to unfavourable weather conditions, but “you can imagine our worry until we hear from him”.

“We hope his hike was delayed due to the bad weather last week and he will be found soon with some epic story to tell,” she said in a Facebook post on Friday night.

Senior Sergeant Byers said further assistance will be available tomorrow if needed.

“Local police, Bush Search and Rescue and DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) have been searching today, but as the weather clears up we should be able to get further assistance from the airwing and SES.

“Despite the weather, the number of campers coming to the north-east has been quite steady. We’re hoping some of them might pick up one of the photos of him and recognise him.”

Police would like to speak to anyone who has seen Niels throughout his travels and is urging them to contact Mansfield Police Station on (03) 5775 2555.

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