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Urgent search for missing Brit astronomy professor, 60, who vanished six days ago in desert in Chile

COPS are urgently searching for a British scientist who vanished six days ago in the desert in Chile.

Prof Tom Marsh, 60, from Rugby, was last seen near the La Silla astronomical observatory in the Atacama Desert.

Thomas Richard Marsh was last seen six days ago
The La Silla observatory where Prof Marsh was workingCredit: AFP
The Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert, considered the driest place on earthCredit: Getty

Cops said they are considering "all options" in their search for the scientist, who was last seen at around 6am last Friday.

Prof Marsh is a keen walker who is said to be familiar with the mountainous area around the observatory where he was working.

All his clothes and other belongings, including his passport, are said to have remained untouched in his rented accommodation.

Searches using specialist equipment including drones are only taking place during daylight because of the unforgiving terrain.

Investigators from Chile's top police force are understood to have been drafted in to probe his disappearance, and volunteers from a local flight club are helping with the search.

Local police chief Carlos Albornoz said: "Search work is being done on the ground and interviews and statements are being taken.

"Other organisations are also involved in the operation to try to establish as quickly as possible where this person is.

"Nothing is being ruled out and all lines of inquiry remain open."

Prof Marsh's family said: “We are deeply concerned for Tom and miss him, and would ask anyone who may any have information on his whereabouts to please help.”

His daughter Tabitha, an illustrator, shared a missing appeal on Instagram.

She said: "This is my dad. He’s been missing in Chile since the 16th of September — almost a week now.

"Please share this, we’re desperate to find him.

“My dad is a Professor of astronomy & astrophysics at the University of Warwick. 

“He was out on an observing run at the La Silla Observatory in Chile when he went missing. 

“The closest town is La Serena. If anyone has ANY information or thinks they can help in ANY way, please contact the police."

He is believed to have been wearing a blue raincoat, a grey wooly hat and walking boots when he was last seen.

It was not immediately clear if he was out for his regular morning walk when he vanished.

Warwickshire Police said specialist officers are supporting Prof Marsh’s family.

La Silla has three large telescopes built and operated by the European Southern Observatory.

It is one of the largest observatories in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is around 95 miles northeast of La Serena on the edge of the Atacama Desert, known as the driest place on earth.

The remote location away from lights and air pollution helps astronomers get a clear view of space.