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Search for kayaker Bren Orton ongoing after he went missing on a river in Switzerland

By George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — British kayaker Bren Orton is missing after an accident on the Melezza River in Switzerland last week.

The 29-year-old was kayaking with a group close to the Swiss-Italian border when he “became trapped in a recirculating feature and did not resurface,” Pyranha, the manufacturer of Orton’s kayaks, said in a statement.

“Authorities and friends are tirelessly continuing their search efforts, and at this time, Bren is considered missing,” the statement added.

“We kindly ask that everyone respects the privacy of Bren’s family and friends during this difficult time by refraining from speculation or posting about the incident.”

In a statement, Ticino Police said that a man was reported missing while kayaking in the Melezza River shortly before 2:45 p.m. local time on Thursday.

“The search – currently unsuccessful but still ongoing – began immediately and involves agents from the Cantonal Police supported by the Ascona Police, as well as rescuers from the Locarnese and Valli Ambulance Service (Salva) and REGA [Swiss search and rescue].”

When contacted by CNN, a spokesperson for Ticino Police said that the search continues at the mouth of the Maggia River, to which the Melezza is a tributary, and Lake Maggiore.

Orton has kayaked in some of the most remote and extreme locations in the world and set the British record for the longest drop in a kayak (128 feet) at Mexico’s Big Banana Falls.

In an interview with Paddling Life last year, he said that his “biggest goal” is to be “the smoothest, sickest kayaker that I can be,” adding that he’s not preoccupied with competing or winning medals.

Former competitive kayaker James Reeves paid tribute to Orton’s life and career, writing on Facebook: “Every few years we seem to lose a friend to our sport. Each loss is tough, and this one cuts deep.

“Bren Orton was an incredible human. From his teenage years, his warm smile and friendly nature shone as brightly as his kayaking skills … I was privileged to briefly mentor Bren in his early years, and then watched in awe as he rose to became one of the greatest whitewater kayakers ever.”

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CNN’s Barbie Nadeau contributed to reporting.

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