PULAU TIOMAN: The discovery of a decomposing body in the search area for Gareth Huntley has rocked the quiet village of Kampung Juara near here.
News of the grisly find spread fast among the 400 village folk, some of whom had been involved in the search.
The close-knit villagers believe the body found was that of Huntley as no one else has been reported missing on the island.
Restaurant worker Nurul Huda Sani, 28, who heard the news from a neighbour, said she was shocked.
“I thought that was impossible. We all knew he went missing, but it’s very easy to survive because there’s water, he could have survived for over a week,” she said at the Juara Mutiara Resort.
“Thousands of people have gone up there and come back safely. Maybe he fainted or maybe he was attacked by bees or fell down hard. We just don’t know because he went alone.”
Villager Khairul Hafis, 35, said this was the most gruesome news the village has heard since 2011.
“That time a French tourist went missing and then we heard she was raped and killed, it was all we could talk about. But that was in Tekek, this happened in our backyard!”
Village chief Ab Rizab Ali Awang said the tragedy should serve as a lesson and urged visitors to always heed advice from the locals when they travel here.
The news of the body find has also sent shock waves among friends Huntley who have taken to social media in the search for the British citizen.
Posting on the “HELP US FIND Gareth David Huntley in Tioman” Facebook page, Tom Fisher from London said: “Constantly hitting the F5 button on various news reports at work in the hope that the news is not true – thoughts are with the family x.”
Jonathan Walker from Grantham summed up the immense love that many have for Huntley.
“I’ve just seen the news. If it is your body that they’ve found Gaz, then I hope you can somehow know that thousands upon thousands of people were looking for you, caring for you, loving you and willing you to be found. Your life touched so many people and you are so loved. Rest in peace buddy,” he posted.
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