The family of missing Australian man Rye Hunt say they are “understandably cautious” of reports that he was spotted on an island close to Copacabana in Brazil.
His family put a statement on Facebook following reports that a Brazilian fisherman had spotted a man that looked like the Australian a day after Mr Hunt went missing in Rio de Janeiro.
In a statement, the family said: “We are seeing the same reports in the media, that Rye has been found. We have no confirmation of this. We are hopeful but understandably cautious of these reports.
“This information has not come via our official channels. We await news from Australian authorities.”
Marina Brandao, from Brazilian newspaper O Globo, said Cotunduba Island was about one kilometre away from Copacabana.
“This fisherman, the police never actually talked to him, never actually met him. He called the central [hotline] to say he had seen a man that looked like the Australian,” she said.
“The fisherman [reported he] saw him on the island, he was a little bit hurt, with scratches… he was little bit hurt and he was thirsty, he was asking for water.
“On the 30th of May and the 31st [emergency services] ran a search at the island but no-one was found there.”
Mr Hunt’s uncle and girlfriend have arrived in Rio, where he was last seen at an apartment in Copacabana on May 21.
In a statement released overnight, family members said they were worried after police reports said Mr Hunt had become paranoid and anxious after taking drugs.
O Globo reported that police had said Mr Hunt and Mr Sheppard had had a bad reaction after taking the drug ecstasy the night before the disappearance.
“So they took the drug, they went to this party and they were in a psychotic breakdown,” she said.
The newspaper said: “We’ve talked to the owner of this club that they went to and the owner said that they were actually on a psychotic break and the owner escorted them home so that they would feel safe because they were really thinking everyone was after him.”
The family said it was out of character for Mr Hunt to take illicit drugs as he worked in the mining industry and had regular drug tests and had never failed.
They also said he has no history of paranoia, anxiety or any other diagnosed mental illness.
Mr Hunt, who is from Tasmania but had been working in Kalgoorlie in WA since 2012, separated from Mr Sheppard after the workmates had an argument at the airport.
They had been travelling since early April, starting off in Thailand and travelling through parts of South America and were due to head to Europe for Oktoberfest.
Mr Sheppard is reportedly distraught and has been handing out photos of his friend around Copacabana in a desperate bid to find him.
Mr Hunt was captured on CCTV leaving the airport in a taxi and later checking into an apartment in Copacabana.
The ABC was told on Wednesday that a Brazilian police hotline set up after Mr Hunt’s disappearance received three tips on Tuesday about possible sightings.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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