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Central Otago police and Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) volunteers will comb an area near Alexandra today in another chapter of the search for missing Alexandra man Christopher Bates.
Most of an area within a 3km radius of Mr Bates’ Alexandra home had been searched thoroughly since then, in keeping with search science, Central Otago LandSAR operations manager Adrian "Snow" Dance, who has headed the physical search operation, said.
About 70% of missing people were found within a 3km radius of their home, Mr Dance said.
Some other areas had also been searched for Mr Bates, including the Clutha River from Alexandra to the Roxburgh Dam, and other possible sightings throughout the country followed up, he said.
Detective Sergeant Derek Shaw, who has headed the inquiry into Mr Bates’ disappearance, said it was frustrating there had been no confirmed sightings of Mr Bates since February 11.
Today’s search, which is weather-dependent, will involve up to 15 searchers going over an area of dense vegetation and swamp near the Manuherikia River that has already been searched but will now be searched in more detail. The area was significantly affected by flooding in November last year, Det Sgt Shaw said.
Det Sgt Shaw said today’s searchers would be "a hard core of people who have really taken ownership of it [the search] and taken it quite personally, with a focus of finding Chris".
He said searchers wanted to do their "absolute best" for Mr Bates’ family.
"But it’s frustrating, and it does consume you to a degree, because you’ve got a file on your desk and you’re cracking your brain for ideas of where to look next and generally you’ve already looked there.
"We just haven’t had any sightings of him ... we’ve done a very serious search on some very limited information. ‘We’re working as hard as we can to get Chris back to his family."
Det Sgt Shaw said it was still one of the "mysteries" of the case, that Mr Bates had not been found when so many members of the public were in the Manuherikia River area walking, walking their dogs or fishing. He asked people to "remain vigilant" and report "anything unusual that may lead us to Chris".
Police had not discounted the possibility that Mr Bates was elsewhere in New Zealand, but that was a "very low probability", Det Sgt Shaw said.
"When Chris was reported missing to us, I had grave concerns for his safety and those concerns have not improved."
Mr Bates’ father, John Bates, and brother and sister-in-law, Jonathan and Sidonee Bates, said they wanted to to thank the community and Mr Bates’ friends for their continued support.
"He [Chris] will never be forgotten."
Mr Bates’ mother, Patricia Bates, said she wanted to thank police and searchers for everything they had done.
"I wish to acknowledge the huge effort the police, searchers and volunteers have made over the past 12 months."