A teenager feared dead after he went missing from home for nine weeks has been found exhausted and dehydrated after wandering in dense Australian bushland.
Matthew Allen, 18, had lost half his body weight, was covered in leeches and insect bites and was suffering from exposure-related injuries when he was discovered by hikers who called police.
Acting police inspector Glyn Baker said: “He was completely exhausted, completely dehydrated, suffered significant weight loss, somewhere up to 50%.
“He was suffering from partial blindness and he had leeches all over him.
“He was not living under any shelter and was exposed to the full conditions since reported being missing.”
According to The Australian newspaper Matthew told his rescuers he had survived by drinking from a nearby creek, and eating the small amount of food he had taken with him.
Police said Matthew suffers from mental health issues.
His mother Deborah Allen said the boy was receiving medical care in Hornsby Hospital north of Sydney.
“We don’t have any comment, other than that our priority is getting Matthew well,” Mrs Allen said.
A search by police and emergency services personnel located the teenager and he was winched out of the dense scrubland by a rescue helicopter.
Police had earlier conducted extensive searches for the missing teenager amid serious concerns for his welfare.
It is understood he was in the bush the entire nine weeks he was missing.
Source: Jonathan Samuels, Australia Correspondent