Chilean police continue the search for missing British professor

British professor Thomas Marsh has gone missing in Chile. He was last seen near La Silla Observatory on the edge of the Atacama Desert. Chilean police and local emergency services are conducting an extensive search for the British professor.

Thomas Marsh, an astrophysicist and astronomer at University of Warwick in England, was recently working at La Silla Observatory as a visiting astronomer at the European Southern Observatory. Professor Marsh was last spoken to on Friday night, Sept. 16. He was last seen around 6:00 a.m. that same morning, and he might have disappeared while out for one of his regular morning walks. 

The 61-year-old is a hiking enthusiast and is said to be very familiar with the mountainous terrain. Chilean police are using specialized equipment, including drones, to search for the professor. Volunteers from a local flying club are also searching for him by air. His clothes and other belongings, including his passport, were apparently left behind in a rented room nearby.

A criminal investigation has also been initiated. Chile’s police force, its Investigations Police (PDI), and agents from the Ministry of the Interior, are all on the case.

A Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said, “We are supporting the family of a British man missing in Chile and are in contact with the local authorities.” 

The professor’s family also put out a call for help: “We are deeply concerned for Tom and miss him, and would ask anyone who may have information on his whereabouts to please help.” The police have also appealed to residents of La Serena, the town closest to the observatory, to contact them in case anyone has any information that might help in any way. 

Marsh is described as white, approximately 6′ 3″ (195 cm), with balding gray hair and a beard. When he was last seen, he was likely to have been wearing a blue rain jacket, walking boots, and a gray woolen hat.

Warwickshire Police can also be contacted internationally at +44 1926 415000. Information can also be reported online at


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