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Family surprised by missing tourist's return -

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Family surprised by missing tourist's return from Thailand

AM - Thursday, 13 January , 2005 08:18:44

Reporter: Ian Townsend

ELEANOR HALL: The number of Australians missing since the Asian tsunami disaster has been revised
down significantly.

Fifteen Australians are now confirmed dead and grave fears are held for another 18, but that number
is down from 31.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had also been looking for 232 missing Australians, but that
figure's now dropped to 124.

So who are these travellers who were in the region and didn't phone home for several weeks?

Ian Townsend caught up with one man who's been on the missing list and who's just appeared out of
the blue on the doorstep of his home in Queensland.

IAN TOWNSEND: Neville Hodgetts' story goes some way to explaining why so many people are still
listed as missing. His family held grave fears for him because he was in Thailand on Boxing Day,
might have been at the beach, and nothing had been heard from him since.

Mr Hodgetts was in Thailand but well away from the disaster area.

He knew there'd been a catastrophe but had no inkling his family might have been worried, until he
flew back to Cairns.

NEVILLE HODGETTS: I already wrote to them and told them which area I was going in, and I was of the
understanding that they should have known.

IAN TOWNSEND: So you thought that they would have known that you weren't going to be at that site.

NEVILLE HODGETTS: We didn't go anywhere near that area. But also I'd already travelled down there
one time years ago, and I wouldn't go back there.

IAN TOWNSEND: So what happened yesterday when you arrived back in Cairns?

NEVILLE HODGETTS: Well, I just came through customs, and no-one said nothing to me.

IAN TOWNSEND: Because you were on a list of missing people?

NEVILLE HODGETTS: Yeah, but they didn't say nothing to me at the airport, at customs. They didn't
have my name, they didn't pull me up or anything like that, whatsoever. Apparently the name didn't
register with them or nothing.

IAN TOWNSEND: What was the reaction of your family when you appeared?

NEVILLE HODGETTS: Oh, well they were just pleased to see me. Pleased to hear from me and ...

IAN TOWNSEND: Were they a bit cranky?

NEVILLE HODGETTS: Oh no, they just explained exactly what had happened. I said, in the letter, I
said that you should have known, but I said I should have rung them, and I had this other trouble
and so... Well, I had a credit card that didn't work, but that wasn't the fault of anyone's, it was
just one of those things that happens.

ELEANOR HALL: Neville Hodgetts, one of the hundreds of Australians reported missing after the Asian
tsunami who's now home alive and well. He was speaking to Brisbane reporter Ian Townsend.