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Warning as search continues for missing mum

BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - NCA NewsWire Photos FEBRUARY 09, 2024: The search for Samantha Murphy continues South West of Ballarat. Husband Michael Murphy gets some encouragement from a friend  at Buninyong Police Station. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson
The search for Samantha Murphy continues South West of Ballarat. SES head off from the Command post at Buninyong Police Station. Picture: Ian Wilson

A large group of volunteers in Ballarat have continued the search for missing woman Samantha Murphy despite police ceasing their own on-foot search.

Search efforts have moved to Mount Helen after Ms Murphy left home to go for a jog on February 4.

The 51-year-old mother of three has not been seen since.

Melbourne residents are travelling to Ballarat to help in the search for Ms Murphy, but are being warned to take extra safety precautions.

Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson on Sunday said it can be concerning for people who don’t know the area.

“What we don’t want, and what emergency services don’t want, is to then need to mount another search for other people,” he told Sky News.

Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a week. Picture: Supplied
Ballarat mother of three Samantha Murphy has been missing for more than a week. Picture: Supplied
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Locals continue the search. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Wilson

“Ideally people would be (travelling) in twos at least so they can work as a team, but people do need to be careful.

“Ballarat is a town that was built on gold, lots of gold mines are out there — and people have to be mindful of that when they are searching.”

Ms Murphy’s friend of more than 12 years, Virginia O’Loughlan, said she was “just trying to remain as positive as I can at the moment”.

“It’s a nightmare roller coaster at the moment,” Ms O’Loughlan told the Today Show on Monday.

“We need as many people as we can get out there.

“Sam’s the most strong woman I know, an extremely dedicated mum, she’s extremely family oriented.”

Ms O’Loughlan said the response from the community had been “amazing” and urged people to keep searching, whether it was on foot, horseback, motorbike or by car.

CCTV has become the key to finding Ms Murphy, police have said, and they are attempting to gather every available piece of footage to track her last documented movements.

A full scale search will only resume if new information emerges.

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A large-scale search in Buninyong continues on Saturday for Ballarat East woman, Samantha Murphy. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Wilson
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Local volunteers search in Buninyong and West of Ballarat continues on Sunday for Ballarat East woman, Samantha Murphy. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Ian Wilson

Investigators are seeking CCTV footage from all surrounding streets and suburbs, even if it does not show Ms Murphy, in a bid to better piece together the events leading up to her disappearance.

Police said on Saturday they did not suspect anything sinister about her disappearance, but they were significantly concerned for her wellbeing.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese extended his thoughts and best hopes to Murphy’s family and friends on Sunday.

“It is, has been, I’m sure just such a difficult time,” he said.

“I thank all those people who are involved in the search and hope that it has a good outcome.”