A reclusive Australian nuclear scientist working at a high security research reactor in a remote Canadian town has disappeared without trace, baffling colleagues and local police.
Melbourne man Lachlan Cranswick, 41, went missing from the town of Deep River, Ontario, 190 kilometres north west of Canada's capital city, Ottawa, about five weeks ago.
"The circumstances of disappearance are just bizarre," the missing man's brother, Rupert Cranswick, told The Age today.
"He just vanished. His home was left open. Everything personal was left there. The local police have done a very thorough investigation. They don't believe it was depression or anything like that. It's just absolutely mysterious."
Rupert Cranswick said police had scanned the missing man's email, bank accounts and phone records and found "everything was absolutely normal". His car was still in the garage and his passport had not been stolen. "It just looks like he went to put out his bins and he vanished from there."
Lachlan Cranswick moved to Canada to start work at the facility seven years ago. The reactor, which was used in the Manhattan Project during World War II, is home to about 2700 employees, and is both a research site and production centre for medical radioisotopes.
Although Rupert said his brother was single and "a private person", his work was world-renowned and he was well known in the local community, partly through his work as vice president of a local curling club.
He was only reported missing when he failed to turn up for a curling tournament six days after he was last seen. Rupert said the delay had significantly impaired the investigation.
Michael Ueltzhoffer, Chief of the Deep River Police Service, told the family Lachlan was a keen hiker and photographer, but a thorough search of the surrounding ski trails and forests failed to find any trace of him.
"A helicopter was brought in to conduct a search of the area," Ueltzhoffer informed the family.
"At my request an area to the north-east of the town on the opposite side of the river was searched by both helicopter and ERT members. This area is uninhabited bush and in the province of Quebec . . . there were no signs indicating anyone had been in the area for some time.
"No doubt we are puzzled by the situation, but we remain positive to locating Lachlan and finding out where he has been."
Rupert, who spent two weeks in Deep River asking questions about his brother, claims local police wasted time searching the surrounding forests and ski trails.
He said Lachlan, who was last seen on Monday, January 18 after taking the company bus back into town and then walking home, would never have gone hiking at night during winter.
"I talked to lots of the locals there and they think something extraordinary happened to him," Rupert said.
"He loved his work. He lived for his work there. He loved it so much he didn't want to come back to Australia.
"It's just such a strange thing. It's like he's been taken off the planet."
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing assistance to Canadian authorities.