A TEENAGER found alive after spending nine weeks in the Australian outback had no shelter and virtually no food or water during a record-breaking heatwave
Matthew Allen (18), pictured, weighed just six stone, was covered in leeches and mosquito bites and was left partially blind after setting off on an apparent test of his survival skills in November..
He lost half his body weight, surviving on small amounts of food and water from a near-dry creek and had no shelter. He was discovered by chance on Saturday by two hikers who found him covered in leeches and mosquito bites and unable to stand after gangrene had started eating into his feet and lower legs.
A helicopter was sent in to winch him out of the dense bush land and fly him to a nearby hospital.
It is believed the accountancy student had been suffering from mental health issues at the time of his disappearance.
Matthew's parents had feared their son was dead after he disappeared from their home in Westleigh, north of Sydney, leaving behind his mobile phone and taking no additional clothing with him.
Despite a search, no trace of him could be found.
"He was not living under any shelter and was exposed to the full conditions since he was reported missing more than two months ago," said police officer Glyn Bakere.
"Anyone who is missing for that length of time in those kind of conditions . . . you wouldn't expect to see them again."
The fact that Matthew survived has left bush walkers and police in awe of his ability to survive without any real sustenance in temperatures that have broken records and left bush fires raging across the country.
Police believe he must have deliberately avoided being seen by other hikers by keeping off well-used tracks.
The teenager's mother Deborah said that her family's priority is "getting Matthew well". (©Independent News Service