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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 January, 2004, 00:29 GMT
Missing UK tourist presumed dead
Ms Timings and Mr Montgomerie flew over mountains near Queenstown
The pair flew over mountains near Queenstown
A British backpacker missing in New Zealand after a suspected helicopter crash is probably dead, police believe.

They have suspended the search for Hannah Timings, 28, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, and local helicopter pilot Campbell Montgomerie.

The pair lost contact with air traffic controllers last Saturday, while flying over a mountainous area of the country's South Island in poor weather.

Rescue helicopters scoured the area, but were hampered by bad conditions.

'Further information'

Police in Te Anau said the search had been suspended, pending further information.

Senior Sergeant Olaf Jensen said Ms Timings and Mr Montgomerie, 27, were presumed dead.

He said: "Two police staff remain at the forward search base in Te Anau to respond to any further information which may require a renewed search."

He said the privately-owned helicopter's disappearance and resulting search would now be subject of coroner's inquiry.

'Hoping and waiting'

A spokesman for the British High Commission in New Zealand had said trying to find the pair really was like trying to search for "a needle in a haystack".

Ms Timings, who had worked as a furniture buyer in London, had been visiting friends in New Zealand since October and was due to return to the UK in March.

Her father had flown to New Zealand to help the search.

And on Friday night her brother, 25-year-old Sam, said the family was still "hoping and waiting" for any news.

It is thought Ms Timings had been in a relationship with Mr Montgomerie, who worked running tours around the island and flights for tourists from hotel to hotel.

They had been heading from Queenstown to Milford Sound, a well known tourist attraction, when Mr Montgomerie radioed air traffic control to say they were lost in cloud.

Police said contact was lost some six minutes later.

Bad weather halts backpacker search
09 Jan 04  |  Gloucestershire
Search for backpacker halted
08 Jan 04  |  Gloucestershire

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