An Australian man who has been missing in Brazil for 12 days reportedly took drugs that led to a psychotic breakdown and a bout of paranoia before his disappearance.
Rye Hunt was last seen at Rio International Airport on May 21 after splitting from his travelling companion following an argument. Hunt's family has set up a Facebook page appealing for any information on his whereabouts.
On Thursday morning, Hunt's family confirmed they had seen reports that he had been found alive, but are remaining cautiously hopeful until they have official confirmation.
Earlier this week the ABC reported that Hunt had been seen on CCTV entering a Copacabana apartment he had hired for three days, paying on one of his credit cards.
Brazilian police questioned the owner of the apartment, but reportedly did not find any significant leads.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Hunt's family said they were told by local media that he had been taking drugs that caused him "extreme paranoia and anxiety" before his disappearance.
At a Wednesday morning news conference, deputy Elen Souto, who is responsible for the investigation, said Rye experienced a psychotic break after he and his friend ingested MDMA, which has the same hallucinogenic properties as ecstasy. According to Souto, he disappeared after that episode.
But Hunt's family said recreational drug use would be "out of character" for him — pointing out that he works as a miner where he is regularly drug tested.
Family members said they would need to see "significant evidence" before they are able to verify the claims.
Hunt's family on Wednesday released photos of his belongings, in the hope it will help the search.
Hunt's uncle, Michael, and partner, Bonnie, also recently arrived in Rio to assist.
The family is asking that anyone with information on Rye's disappearance contact Brazilian police, or get in touch with the Find Rye Hunt Facebook page.
"My brother is a kind, thoughtful, loyal and generous person who is, above all, spirited and fun. I miss his cheeky nature and his big bear hugs. Come home to us, Rye," Bonnie said.
Rob Stott is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Rob Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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