Aussie hiker thought he'd die in Malaysia


An Australian backpacker who was missing for about two weeks in the Malaysian jungle thought he might die and had started eating wild ferns to survive.

Tasmanian Andrew Gaskell was found by Malaysian search and rescue crews in the Mulu National Park on Tuesday.

He was unconscious, emaciated, covered in leeches and had injured feet and infected nails.

Mr Gaskell was reported missing to Tasmania Police after his family heard nothing after he set off to hike a national park in Sarawak on October 18.

The 25-year-old got lost after descending a mountain at sunset into bushland where there were a lot of different trails.

"I ended up spending that whole night just wandering and really got myself badly disorientated," Mr Gaskell told ABC radio.

""If I had a GPS or navigational equipment I would have been fine. That was extremely stupid of me, really."

He survived by eating wild ferns in the last few days and drinking plenty of fresh water.

"By the end of it I was quite concerned I wouldn't make my 26th birthday," he said.

Mr Gaskell is being assessed in a Malaysian hospital, Tasmanian Police said in a statement on Tuesday night.

His mother Elizabeth Gaskell "felt amazing relief" when her youngest son phoned to tell her Andrew had been found.

"I spoke to my son (Ben) first, he said 'he is alive, weak but alive'," Ms Gaskell told the Hobart Mercury.

"I'm really thankful to all the volunteers that helped and I'm so thankful to God he's safe," Ms Gaskell said.