Hunt for missing University of Warwick professor, 61, last seen six days ago near remote mountain observatory in Chile as his anguished daughter says ‘we’re desperate to find him’
Police are hunting for a missing University of Warwick professor who has gone missing in Chile, as his anguished daughter said her family are ‘desperate to find him’.
Thomas Richard Marsh, a British astrophysicist at University of Warwick, was last seen six days ago near the remote astronomical observatory La Silla on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert where he is understood to have been working.
Police have admitted they are considering ‘all options’ in their search for the 61-year-old, a keen walker who is said to have been very familiar with the mountainous terrain where he vanished.
Mr Marsh was last seen around 6am last Friday and all his clothes and other personal belongings including his passport are said to have remained untouched in a nearby rented room.
His daughter Tabitha said her family are ‘desperate to find him’ as she urged the public to contact the police with any information about his whereabouts.
Searches using specialist equipment including drones and involving volunteers from a local flight club are only taking place during daylight because of the nature of the terrain.
Thomas Richard Marsh, an astrophysicist at University of Warwick, was last seen six days ago near a remote astronomical observatory La Silla on the outskirts of the Atacama Desert where he is understood to have been working
Criminal investigators from Chile PDI’s police are understood to have been drafted in to help discover if the disappearance is accidental or could be linked to a crime.
Officers from the Carabineros national law enforcement police are also involved in the search.
Local PDI 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.’
Mr Marsh’s daughter, Tabitha, posted a photo of her father on Instagram and pleaded with members of the public to contact the local police if they had any information.
Tabitha, an artist and illustrator who was shortlisted for the 2019 Stratford/Salariya Children’s Book Prize, wrote: ‘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.
An aerial view of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla facility in La Higuera, Coquimbo Region, about 600 km north of Santiago
La Silla Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Chile with three telescopes built and operated by the European Southern Observatory
People are seen before of the solar eclipse in La Silla European Southern Observatory (ESO) at Coquimbo, Chile
Mr Marsh was last seen around 6am last Friday at the La Silla Observatory in Chile and all his clothes and other personal belongings including his passport are said to have remained untouched in a nearby rented room
‘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. If you’re in the UK, dial 101 and quote the reference: INC 153 18/9/22 Warwickshire Police. If you’re outside the UK, please call +44 1926 415000.
‘Thank you. My family, and my dad’s friends and colleagues, would be beyond grateful for any help or information.
‘Even if you don’t think you can do anything, please share this — someone you know might be able to help us.’
Expanding on a description of the clothes he was likely to have been wearing when he was last seen, she including a missing poster on her post which said: ‘Probably wearing a blue rain coat, grey woollen hat and walking boots.’
Bookseller and illustrator Tasmin Rosewell, a friend of his daughter’s who echoed news of the disappearance on social media, added: ‘My friend’s father, Professor Tom Marsh, Astrophysicist at University of Warwick is missing from the Observatory at La Silla in Chile.
‘The nearest town is La Serena. He’s 60 years old, height 192cm.
‘Interpol/Chilean Police are now looking internationally, and back in England.’
Mr Marsh is said to have been wearing jeans, grey shoes and a grey jacket when he was last seen. It was not immediately clear if he was out for one of his regular morning walks when he vanished.
His relatives are being kept informed of all developments according to local press.
Chilean astronomer Laura Ventura looks at one of the optical telescopes on the platform of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), with its four optical telescopes and four movable auxiliary telescopes, at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Paranal Observatory
The ESO, a collaboration involving 16 European countries, operates a number of high-powered telescopes in Chile in three observing sites: Paranal, La Silla and Chajnantor
Professor Christine Ennew, University of Warwick Provost, told MailOnline: ‘Professor Tom Marsh, the founding professor of the Astronomy and Astrophysics group at University of Warwick, was reported as missing from La Silla Observatory in Chile, where he has recently been working as a visiting astronomer at the ESO (European Southern Observatory).
‘The local emergency services are undertaking a thorough and extensive search for Tom.
‘We are in regular contact with Tom’s family and have offered them our full support, along with his colleagues, students and friends at the University.
‘Our thoughts remain with them at this worrying time.’
La Silla Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Chile with three telescopes built and operated by the European Southern Observatory, an intergovernmental research organisation made up of 16 member states for ground-based astronomy.
The observatory is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located around 95 miles northeast of the city of Serena at the outskirts of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest and remotest places in the world.
A UK Foreign Office told the MailOnline: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man missing in Chile and are in contact with the local authorities.’