Search for missing ultra-marathoner intensifies on day four

GOPENG: After three days, the search for a missing participant of an ultra-marathon event in Gua Tempurung here has intensified with more personnel being roped in.

The search-and-rescue operation for Mohammad Ashraf Hassan, 29, from Muar, Johor, has now entered its fourth day.

Perak Youth and Sports Committee chairman Howard Lee Chuan How said some 170 people are now part of the search party.

"We have requested the assistance from the police canine unit, army, the General Operations Force and Rela members.

"We have also called out to hiking and trekking enthusiasts, especially those who are familiar and who experience and skill in search-and-rescue operations," he told a press conference at the operations centre near Gua Tempurung on Tuesday night (Mar 26).

"We are committed and are going all out to look for him," he added.

It has been reported that Mohammad Ashraf went missing during the 25km ultra-marathon event on Saturday.

A missing persons' report was lodged on Sunday at about 1am after attempts by the organiser to look for him failed.

The search operation initially only involved the police, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department, the organiser and villagers.

Lee said the operation would also widen its search and comb the nearby Sungai Kampar.

"As of now, we are still unsure about his condition or whether this involved foul play.

"According to the event's official photographer, he was last seen after the sixth check point where a picture of him was captured," he said.

"We will search the area where he was last reported missing again," he said, adding there had been two earlier leads on his whereabout but these led to nothing.

Lee said he understood that Mohammad Ashraf was an extreme sport enthusiast.

"We spoke to his family. This was not his first (event)," he said, adding that Mohammad Ashraf had a one-year-old child.