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Some 13 Swiss disappear every day

A search party looking for a missing teenager near Bern © KEYSTONE / PETER SCHNEIDER

In Switzerland, several thousand people are reported missing each year, but the authorities rarely initiate a public search. 

This content was published on January 30, 2018 - 17:03
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About 4,700 people go missing annually, according to Sunday newspaper SonntagsZeitungExternal link. The newspaper based this figure on data from 13 cantons. Many of the missing – 44% in cantons Basel City and Fribourg, for example – are under 18.

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However, the local authorities only ask the public for help in 2.8% of cases – notably when a suspect, a child, or an elderly person in poor health is unaccounted for. As authorities told the SonntagsZeitung, they are more cautious about launching a manhunt for a healthy adult who might just need some time away. Police also cite their reluctance to frighten the person or worry the public. 

In 2017, canton Geneva had the most missing people: 1,668. However, Geneva recently improved its system for reporting anyone missing. Police there initiated formal searches for five people; three are still missing. The other 1,665 were found, but 11 of them were dead.

In comparison, Zurich launched 11 searches for 285 missing people, and Ticino authorities tried to find 33 of their 83 missing – with great success. All but two of the missing were found, including two children spotted near a train station.

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