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Rugged-area specialists to join in search

GRAVE CONCERNS: Elizabeth Staunton. Photo: NSW PoliceSPECIALIST vertical rescue personnel will today join the desperate search for an elderly woman who was last night still missing in rugged bushland north-east of Armidale.

Deteriorating weather yesterday hampered the search and there were grave fears for the safety of 73-year-old Elizabeth Staunton, who disappeared from Point Lookout Rd, almost 80km out of Armidale, on Thursday morning.

Mrs Staunton was holidaying with her daughter at a cabin near Point Lookout in the New England National Park.

She was last seen walking along the road about 10.30am. But since then, there has been no trace of Mrs Staunton, who suffers from dementia.

“There has been no sign of her and there are grave concerns for her safety, but we’re hoping to locate her as soon as possible,” Detective Inspector Ann Joy said late yesterday.

A search on Thursday wrapped up at 11pm, with a command post set up to co-ordinate the search involving the SES, RFS, VRA, National Parks and Wildlife, and police.

Rescuers were out until light was lost again last night, and the search will resume at 8am today if there’s still no sign of Mrs Staunton.

“There is some fairly rugged terrain out there,” Inspector Joy said.

“There are portions of the area that are not terribly accessible. Specialist vertical rescue personnel and rescue co-ordinators from police and the Ambulance Service will join the search.”

Mrs Staunton had no protective gear when she disappeared and her family told search personnel she was not familiar with the area.

Police said Thursday night was especially cool in the search zone and yesterday’s conditions were quite poor, with some rain recorded.

“At the present time we can’t [use the helicopter to search] because visibility is too poor,” Inspector Joy said.

Mrs Staunton is described as Caucasian in appearance, about 150cm tall with a medium build, blue eyes and sandy-coloured, collar-length hair.

She was last seen wearing a white shirt, brown slacks and open-toed shoes.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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