A YOUNG family and their friend probably starved to death under the baking sun in the Outback, police have said.
Two 19-year-old parents, their three-year-old son and a boy aged 12 were travelling in a vehicle that ran out of fuel and had a flat tyre, police confirmed.
The family likely died due to extreme heat and a lack of food and water, police say.
The four left the Willowra on Friday destined for the community of Jarra Jarra, a 70 mile journey that is about a five-hour drive on the Jarra Jarra Access Rd.
After their car broke down about half way through the journey and without a mobile phone signal they began walking in temperatures of 40C, NT News reported.
The bodies of the couple and their son were found 2.7 miles from their vehicle by passer-by and the 12-year-old was found after further searches about 400 feet away.
“The cause of death is a matter for the coroner, however the cause of death is likely to have been exposure to the elements,” News 7 reported Superintendent Jody Nobbs as saying.
An extensive land and air search of the Northern Territory’s north-west was launched on Wednesday.
Supt Nobbs said police are yet to rule out that there may have been more passengers in the vehicle.
“Although police have no information that suggests there were other passengers in the car, we will continue a precautionary land and air search until we are satisfied that all areas of interest have been sufficiently canvassed,” he said.
The man who raised the alarm will be “a critical part of the investigation”, the officer said.
They are not believed to have died under suspicious circumstances while food and water was found at the scene.
Police were alerted to their deaths when a “distraught” man raised the alarm at an Aboriginal health clinic in Willowra at around 12.30pm local time on Wednesday.
Authorities were only able to reach the bodies today because of flooding and the remoteness of the area, which is located in the middle of the country.