Australian police search for missing Belgian backpacker

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian police are searching for an 18-year-old Belgian backpacker who has been missing in a coastal town for 11 days, saying they are seriously concerned about his welfare.

Theo Hayez vanished after leaving a bar in Byron Bay, a holiday town 765 km (475 miles) north of Sydney, late on May 31. He has not been seen or heard from since.

"Serious concerns are held for his welfare as his passport and personal belongings were all located at the hostel," New South Wales police said in a statement on their website, referring to where Hayez was staying.

Police were alerted about his disappearance on June 6 after he failed to check out from his hostel and could not be found.

The search has narrowed to two areas near the centre of Byron Bay, based on his last phone records, police said.

Hayez has been backpacking around Australia since November and was due to return to Belgium this week, media reported.

"We are advised that his disappearance is completely out of character for him," Chief Inspector Matthew Kehoe said.


(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Praveen Menon, Robert Birsel)