News 14 february — 11:01

Stephanie Simpson: New Zealand police find body of missing woman

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Police looking for a British woman missing in New Zealand have said they have found her body, BBC reports.

Stephanie Simpson, 32, from Essex, is thought to have gone on a hike last weekend in Mount Aspiring National Park in the country's South Island.

Searchers made the discovery at about 13:40 New Zealand time (00:40 GMT) on Friday in the Pyke Creek area, New Zealand Police said.

They had earlier found items they believed had belonged to her.

Ms Simpson, from the Basildon area, was reported missing on Monday, when a search began.

According to her Facebook account, she had been living in the Wanaka area since November and was working as a landscaper.

A thermal-imaging drone, dog teams, helicopter and search teams failed to find any sign of her on Thursday and police in New Zealand had said the search was difficult due to the size and terrain of the area.

The search continued on Friday with more teams, who focussed on the Pyke area of the park.

Before search teams discovered her body, they found a "pack" and a pair of boots which were thought to be hers, police said.

Sgt Mark Kirkwood, from West Coast Search and Rescue, said police wanted to thank all those involved in the search for their "considerable efforts".

"The search was extremely challenging at times, especially in consideration of the terrain, and the work of all involved is to be commended," he said.

"Police extend their condolences to Stephanie's family at this tragic time."

The death will be referred to the coroner.

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