Rome (AFP)

Research continues unabated in southern Italy to trace a wounded French hiker, Simon Gautier, not found for seven days in a vast rocky area.

"We do not have any news yet, the search is continuing without interruption," the gendarmes told AFP, adding that the two research teams mobilized include mountaineers, firefighters and gendarmes.

The 27-year-old Frenchman, who has been living in Rome for two years to write a thesis in art history, was hiking near Policastro, about 200 km south of Naples.

Friday, August 9, around 9:00 am, he called the rescue with his mobile phone. "He said he was confused, that he had both legs broken, that he was in pain," a French friend referring to the recording of the call told AFP.

This friend indicates that Simon Gautier, "very sporty and organized, had prepared his trip". He probably left the day before, with a bag containing water and food for a few days, but probably not for a whole week, she says, worrying about the intense heat of the region.

A source at the Quai d'Orsay told AFP that France was following closely the efforts made by the Italian authorities to trace the young man.

The source said that the Italian authorities "are deploying significant material and human resources, which are being reinforced, in order to find Simon Gautier in a large and difficult area of ​​access". This involves "overflights by helicopter and drones, the use of teams of speleologists, the mobilization of volunteers, and recognition from the sea".

On the spot, Delphine, the mother of the hiker, however, judges the deployed staff insufficient. "We need help, we're at seven more days, it's unbearable," she told RTL. "The terrain is very difficult to access and there are only twelve firefighters to access, it is absolutely insufficient".

-Call with loved ones-

"France or Italy must send firefighters trained to the high mountains, speleologists ... It takes a lot more teams than that ... Even with the best will in the world, the teams in place, who work a lot , can not cover the whole area, "she says.

Fifteen of the student's friends also arrived to take part in the research "We do everything we can but here we are stuck, we really need help", implores the mother.

His friends searched Simon Gautier's computer, left in Rome, to see in the history of his research if he had planned a precise itinerary.

Thomas, one of the injured hiker's best friends, recounts how he has been walking for two days on the steep paths of this part of Campania, where mountains and cliffs overlook the sea.

In a scorching heat, volunteers try "blind and without guides" to support a dozen gendarmes and another dozen policemen, with the support of a helicopter. "We need specialized reinforcements!" Insists Thomas, who complains about a lack of information.

"We asked about the location of the telephone signal from his last call, and some Italians told us that we need prior approvals," says Thomas. But, "the phone is the key, you must have access to its last GPS position".

"There are very few antennas in this uninhabited region that can allow a precise location of the call past," however described for its part a law enforcement official. "Therefore the research area is very large".

© 2019 AFP