Body found in hunt for Brit astronomer Tom Marsh missing in Chilean desert

A body has been found in the search for missing Professor Tom Marsh with police in Chile saying it belongs to the missing astronomer.

Prof Marsh, 60, of Warwick University, disappeared on September 16 while working at La Silla observatory, which is located on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Local prosecutor Adrian Vega said that the body had been located after a long search in an area where it would be easy to “twist an ankle or fall” due to the rocky terrain.

He told reporters: ” It is a very rugged area, for people trying to climb down you have to pass through areas which are very rocky and it is where anyone could twist an ankle or fall and this is one of the hypothesis which the forensics will be examining.”

On Thursday, Warwick University said that a body had been found following an update from local authorities searching for the astronomer.

A tweet from Chilean police said that the body was in the desert close to the observatory after an “intense search” in a rocky area of ravines.

Police chief General Juan Munoz said that the body was now being taken for a medical examination to determine the cause of death.

In a video message he said: “Today I am sad to say we have found the body of this person in this sector and now clearly we are going to carry out the recovery of the body to be given to the regional authorities.”

Police also tweeted: “After an intense search with multiple divisions of law enforcement, the lifeless body of the astronomer missing since September 16 has been found. We are sorry to deliver this sad news and express our condolences to his family and friends.”

The Chilean authorities gave their condolences to Prof Marsh’s family, who are in northern Chile, having travelled out there to assist in the search operation.

In a statement Warwick University said that no formal identification of the body has been made yet.

Provost Christine Ennew said that it was “deeply distressing” news for Prof Marsh’s family, as well as the university’s wider community.

“This is deeply distressing news for Tom’s family and our thoughts are of course with them, along with his colleagues and our wider community,” she said.

“And we realise it’s particularly difficult while people are waiting for formal identification to take place.

“I know what a terrible time this is for the colleagues who knew Tom and counted him as a close friend as well as an inspirational academic and mentor.

“For anyone who has been impacted by today’s news, please do use the wellbeing support that’s there to help you during this difficult time.

“We will keep you updated with any further developments.”

An FCDO spokesperson reportedly said they are in contact with the local authorities.

“We are supporting the family of a British man missing in Chile and are in contact with the local authorities,” they said.