A missing Dutch pensioner who popped out to his local bar for a beer before getting lost for four days in the Thai jungle has been found alive.
Franciscus Johannes van Rossum, 78, was last seen at a local bar where he drank five bottles of Chang before leaving on his motorcycle in Phetchaburi province on August 31.
His Thai wife Rachot Chanwijit, 61, became worried after he did not return home that night so she went to the bar but the owner said the man had left earlier.
The retired ex-pat, from Utrecht, then made two calls on the mornings of September 1 and September 2 saying he was lost in the Khong Ta Bang forest during a storm so she reported the incident to authorities who sent out search parties.
Locals noticed his motorcycle and found him nearby last Friday night September 3 at 11pm. He was sleeping in a puddle after a heavy rainstorm and he was covered in mosquito bites.
Relieved Franciscus said: ‘I thought I was going to die. My phone battery was dead, my motorcycle had run out of gas and it was raining. There was nothing to eat.
‘I was so relieved when I heard the local people. They saved my life. I’m so happy to be safe and see my wife again.’
Wife Rachot said: ‘I was trying to call him on the night he was last seen but he did not answer so I went to the bar. He was not there.
‘I received a call from him on September 1 early in the morning saying he rode into the forest but he did not know the exact coordinates where he was.’
The worried wife added that their conversation was cut because there was heavy rain and the man called again the next day on September 2.
She said: ‘He called me again the next day saying his phone battery was about to die and the motorcycle’s oil had run out. He said he was exhausted and needed help so I called the police.’
Officers began with the search and tried tracing his movements by interviewing the people who last saw him. The latest evidence of his whereabouts was recorded in CCTV footage in Kaeng Krachan district, which was about 40km away from the bar.
Store owner Bunteam Kiawgaew, who last saw the man, said: ‘Franciscus came to drink five bottles of beer from 2 pm to 5 pm and then left. I don’t know where he was planning to go after drinking.’
A local Buddhist temple monk Phramongkol Mangkharo said he saw the pensioner parking his motorcycle in front of the monastery appearing to be drunk before leaving the spot but didn’t know where he went.
Rescue volunteers, police officers, and villagers helped with the search for the Dutch pensioner before he was finally found. He was dehydrated, exhausted and hungry with some minor cuts and scratches on his body but had no serious injuries.