Australia outback: family found dead, child missing in Northern Territory

NT police search for missing boy after three found dead near car

NT police search for missing boy after three found dead near car

Two teenage parents and their young son have been found dead after abandoning a broken-down vehicle in a remote part of the Outback - as a desperate search begins for a missing 12-year-old who was travelling them.

A formal identification is yet to be undertaken to confirm if the body is that of the boy, who was believed to have been a passenger in the auto.

In a statement Thursday, Northern Territory Police said a 19-year-old man and woman had been found, along with a three-year-old boy, next to the vehicle 350 kilometers (217 miles) northwest of Alice Springs in the Willowra district.

The deaths were initially thought to have been caused by a auto crash - but that has since been ruled out.

Police do not believe the deaths are suspicious, and food and water were found at the scene.

"The whereabouts of this 12-year-old boy are not known at this point in time", Duty Superintendent Shaun Gill told ABC radio on Thursday.

First reports to police on Wednesday indicated the vehicle had crashed but investigators found that was not the case.

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"One of the avenues we're looking at is that they've walked off from a vehicle in extreme weather and may have got caught out", he said.

Nobbs said the man who made the initial report to the health clinic in Wilowra would be interviewed.

Family members have not authorised the release of the boy's name but say people living in the surrounding communities of Ali Curung, Ti Tree and Willowra are aware of his identity.

"He will be a critical part of the investigation".

Superintendent Jody Nobbs said police were concerned for the welfare of the 12-year-old boy.

This morning, police said a 12-year-old boy, who they believed was with the group, was not found among the dead.

Police are calling on anyone with information to contact them immediately on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.

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