A friend of the backpacker missing in the Malaysian jungle last night said his family remain hopeful of finding him alive after the search was “focused” on a smaller area.

Gareth Huntley, a former pupil of Woodhouse Grove School in Apperley Bridge, has not been seen since May 27 after he started a trek to a waterfall in Tioman Island, off the south-eastern coast of the country’s mainland.

Mr Huntley, 34, had been working at the Juara Turtle Project. He is on a sabbatical from his job as an accountant in London.

Johari Jahaya, the man leading the rescue team, says fresh clues meant they were able to focus the area being searched.

However, he would not divulge any further details but said a group of 39 people were working on the search.

Mr Huntley’s mother, Janet Southwell, of Bradford, arrived in Malaysia on Monday to be nearby when he is found.

Meanwhile, close friend Sophie Wilson says Mr Huntley’s family continue to be positive.

She said: “The search has not been scaled at all. It has been focused into a more realistic area.”