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Desperate search underway for Canadian hiker missing in southern Germany

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Desperate search underway for Canadian hiker missing in southern Germany
Archive picture of Brauneck, where missing Jeff Freiheit was hiking. Photo: DPA
12:24 CEST+02:00
A search is underway for a Canadian hiker who has been missing for more than two weeks.

Experienced hiker Jeff Freiheit, from Brandon, Manitoba, was walking alone from Munich to Venice, but his family have not heard from him since the beginning of August, when he was in the south-German community of Bad Tölz.

On August 2nd he hiked up to Brauneck where he posted a short video on Instagram from the Panorama restaurant. It is understood he was on his way to Gasthof Post in Vorderriß but never arrived. Nobody has heard from him since.

A large scale rescue operation has been launched, with police and mountain rescue crews scouring the area since he was reported missing.

According to reports, rescuers have been focusing on hiking trails around the area.

"The alpine search and rescue in the area have had dogs out. They're using drones. They've got up to 60 different people walking the trek with GPS, tractors, helicopters, para-gliders," Selena Freiheit told Global News.

She and Freiheit's mother, Kathy Freiheit, arrived in Germany on August 5th, according to Canadian media outlets, and were staying at a hotel in the town of Bad Tölz so they could be in direct contact with police and searchers. The town is the last place she heard from Jeff during an early morning Facetime call on August 2nd.

Jeff Freiheit. Photo: Facebook

Freiheit, a 32-year-old teacher and lover of the outdoors, was only two days into what was expected to be a 24-day trip along 'der Traumpfad', a well-known alpine trek between Munich and Venice known as the Dream Path or Dream Way, when he disappeared.

He was reportedly last seen at a village shop in Jachenau on August 3rd and failed to show up at further accommodations he'd booked along the trail.

A fundraising page has been set up by friends and family of the Freiheit's to support the search. More than $35,000 has been raised so far. It will help with costs such as flights, hotels or private search parties.

According to reports, rescue crews have been searching around the area Freiheit went missing, including rugged hiking trails located just north of the Austrian border.

A section of the trail between Jachenau and Vorderriß is of particular interest because it is known to be treacherous and can be a difficult spot for walkers.

Search teams have been looking on foot as well as with helicopters, in case Freiheit may have fallen to a spot that is not easily spotted from the sky.

Anyone who has any information is urged to contact local emergency services. He is described as being 6'1 175lbs, slim athletic build with brown hair and brown eyes.

People across the world have shared social media posts about Freiheit's disappearance in support of him and his family.

The German Embassy in Ottawa said it was "profoundly saddened" by the news but that it remains "hopeful".

Rescue workers have been scouring the area between Brauneck and Benedicktenwand in recent days, according to the Munchner Merk news blog.

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