Police are hunting for a British woman missing in a Brazilian forest after wandering there barefoot and alone to meditate.
Katherine Brewster, 27, was dressed in only light clothing and left her mobile phone behind when she headed into the rough terrain.
Her sister, Lizzie, from East Sussex, posted a plea on Facebook for anyone who had any information to get in touch.
Ms Brewster, known as Kat, had been staying in a couple’s home near an eco-village in Rio Grande do Sul in the south of Brazil.
Villagers last saw her on Sunday, walking towards a wooded area en route to the Foz de Chapeco dam, where they said she would often go to meditate.
She was barefoot and wearing Bermuda shorts, according to investigators. But she was carrying her British passport and a credit card, and her card company has been alerted to watch for any spending on it.
Fire officers using sniffer dogs to search said their efforts were hampered by rugged terrain.
The British consulate in Sao Paulo was in contact with her family at home in Seaford, authorities said. Her father is a counsellor and her mother is an academic, according to reports.
Lizzie Brewster posted a Facebook message in Portuguese that said: “If you happened to talk to Kat in the last few days or know where she might be, please contact me. I am trying to talk to her urgently.”
Detective Ercilio Carletti, in charge of the investigation, said: “We were told she went out for a walk on Sunday afternoon and didn’t come back.
”The witness believes she went into the nearby forest to meditate and to be at one with nature, as this was something she had the habit of doing.
“We’re working on the possibility that Katherine may have walked deep along the banks of the lake and perhaps got lost. This region is in a gully and very complicated.”
He added that police are also working with the theory she may have left voluntarily as she is believed to speak fluent Portuguese and “may have failed to notify others of her destination after taking her passport”.
According to investigators, her driving licence and suitcase, full of clothes and other belongings, were found still in the property where she had been staying.
Luiz Vasconcelos, one of her hosts, said: “She came here looking to make contact with nature and the plants and went out a lot to meditate.
”We know nothing more than what we have told the police. Unexpectedly, Katherine just disappeared in a strange way and we don’t want to start guessing her motives or the whereabouts of where she might be.
“Hopefully everything will become clear soon with the best possible outcome.”
Clairton Silva, coordinator at the eco-village, said: “Katherine was not staying with us – she was staying with a couple that live in the village nearby. She arrived about a week ago to visit them. I believe a friend in England had asked her to visit the couple when she came to Brazil because they had been described as ‘good people to meet’.
”While she was here, I was told by the couple that Katherine would normally go into the forest to meditate so they didn’t think anything was strange when she went out last Sunday.”
Officials at the nearest airport, Salgado Filho, are checking all passengers in case she turns up at the international terminal. Ms Brewster did not fly into Brazil, but arrived over the border from a neighbouring South American country more than a month ago, officials said.
Chief of police Loureno Guerra, in Alpestre in Rio Grande do Sul state, said: “We are extremely worried about Katherine’s whereabouts as she hasn’t taken any clothes or other personal items with her apart from her passport and the credit card, and she left barefoot and in light clothes. She didn’t even take her cellphone.
”We have stepped up the case by calling in the federal police who are taking over the investigation. Agents have been in touch with her mum already and she has warned the credit card company in the UK which is monitoring whether any transactions have occurred since her daughter went missing.
“The Federal officers are also keeping the mum up to date on the search for her child.”