Missing backpacker Rye Hunt's body handed back to family


Rye Hunt's "heartbroken" family is preparing to cremate his body in Rio de Janeiro and bring it back to Australia.

Brazilian authorities on Monday officially handed Mr Hunt's body over to his family and it was taken to a local funeral home while his girlfriend and uncle prepare to bring it back to Tasmania.

The 25-year-old backpacker went missing on May 21 after he became separated from his travelling companion Mitchell Sheppard at the Rio airport.

They had an argument after the two took what is suspected to be a highly potent hallucinogen known as NBOMe.

Brazilian authorities have handed Rye Hunt's body back to his Australian family. Picture: Facebook.

Clinical tests have confirmed a body that washed ashore at Marica on June 8 was Mr Hunt.

His uncle Michael Wholohan, who has been searching for him in Rio for the past two weeks, lodged an application with a Rio court to have his remains cremated and repatriated.

"Rye has previously made clear his wish to be cremated and for his ashes to be scattered in his home state of Tasmania," the family said in a statement on Monday.

If the application is granted, Mr Wholohan and Mr Hunt's girlfriend Bonnie Cuthbert will bring his remains to Australia on June 15.

Mr Hunt, 25, was last seen at the Rio de Janeiro airport when he and his companion parted ways following an argument after the two had taken what is suspected to be a highly potent hallucinogen known as NBOMe.

Brazilian authorities carried out a 72-hour sea search after a fishermen spotted a body floating off Rio's coast in clothes similar to those worn by Mr Hunt when he vanished.

Authorities had previously scoured Cotunduba Island after another fisherman reported seeing Mr Hunt there - scratched and asking for water - the day after he disappeared.

Rye and his travel buddy had a row in the hours before he disappeared.

Ms Bishop said the Australian government would work with the family to provide whatever support was possible.

"We will continue to work with the Brazilian authorities to determine how this death came about," she told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

Mr Hunt had been working on a Kalgoorlie mine site before leaving to travel the world.

"We are understandably heartbroken," Mr Hunt's sister Romany Brodribb said on Saturday.

"Rye was the youngest member of our family and was known for being loyal, loving, generous, cheeky, and as a brother, totally infuriating!

"Thinking about life without him is unfathomable. He will be very missed by us all."

His partner Bonnie Cuthbert, who went to Rio to join the search for him, said she felt blessed to have shared her past five years with her "beautiful Big Bear".

"We have been so lucky to have found and loved each other so deeply. The love Rye and I shared will remain within both of us, forever."