Urgent search for missing University of Warwick professor Thomas Marsh - who vanished in Chile

University of Warwick Professor Thomas Marsh was last seen six days ago near the La Silla observatory Credit: Warwickshire Police / Handout

Detectives are urgently searching for a British scientist who vanished six days ago in the desert in Chile.

University of Warwick Professor Thomas Marsh, 60, was last seen near the La Silla astronomical observatory in the Atacama Desert.

Police said they are considering "all options" in their search for the scientist - who was last seen at around 6am last Friday.

Prof Marsh, who is from Rugby and is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Warwick, is a keen walker who is said to be familiar with the mountainous area around the observatory where he was working.

Warwickshire Police said Prof Marsh "is described as white, approximately 6’3” in height, with balding grey hair and a beard.

"He is likely to be wearing a blue rain jacket, walking boots and a grey woollen hat," the force added.

All his clothes and other belongings, including his passport, are said to have remained untouched in his rented accommodation.

Searches using specialist equipment including drones are only taking place during daylight because of the terrain.

Officers from Warwickshire Police are in contact with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Interpol, as well as Chilean authorities.

Detectives from Chile's top police force are understood to have been drafted in to investigate his disappearance, and volunteers from a local flight club are helping with the search.

Prof Marsh's daughter has posted on Instagram an appeal in a bid to find her dad. In her post, she 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."

Professor Christine Ennew, of the University of Warwick said: "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."

If anyone has any information, please call Warwickshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 153 of 18 September 2022. Warwickshire Police can also be contacted internationally by calling +44 1926 415000.