RELATIVES of Fergus McInnes fear the missing researcher has suffered an accident on a hiking trip.
Mr McInnes, 51, left Edinburgh Airport bound for a conference in Geneva on September 9. But he failed to check into his hotel, attend the gathering or catch his flight home.
The keen hillwalker, who works at Edinburgh University, was seen on CCTV in the Swiss airport after buying a return train ticket to the Alpine town of Martigny, 50 miles away.
Sister Lorna, 41, said it was “entirely possible” her brother suffered an accident hiking in the foothills of the Alps.
Meanwhile, their dad said the family was increasingly concerned for his son, whose mobile phone and e-mails haven’t been accessed since he was last seen.
Speaking via social media, Ms McInnes said: “The train would arrive on Tuesday [September 9] afternoon, giving him some free time to do as he wished.
“This is in a beautifully scenic area, nestling in a valley surrounded by mountains.
“There are a number of well-marked paths leading up from the town into the countryside, and it is entirely possible Fergus took a hike up one of these.
“If he did go into the mountains, he might have got lost, or had an accident of some sort that prevented him from returning to Martigny.”
Worried dad Bennet McInnes, speaking for the first time, said that his son’s colleagues were doing everything they could to help with the search.
He said: “When Fergus said goodbye to his mother and me in Perth after visiting us for the weekend, he was in good spirits.
“He was looking forward to his short visit to Switzerland two days later. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, he sent me a brief e-mail before he left his flat.
“Since then, nobody seems to have heard anything from him.
“We know that his colleagues in Switzerland were very surprised when he failed to turn up at the conference in Martigny, and have been doing all they can to establish what could have happened to him.”
It is understood that police have twice searched Mr McInnes’ home in St Leonard’s Bank to establish whether he had taken his walking boots.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are keeping an open mind, but one consideration is that he went hillwalking near to Martigny.”
Jean-Marie Bornet, chief of information for the Valais Police in Switzerland, said his officers were investigating the claims Mr McInnes had walked into the countryside.
But he also stressed there had been no known further sightings since Mr McInnes was captured on CCTV in Geneva Airport. This has been broadcast on Swiss TV in an appeal for help to trace him.
Mr McInnes said: “We are grateful to the Scottish police, to the Swiss authorities and Swiss police for their invaluable assistance, and to Fergus’s friends and colleagues for their ongoing concern and support.”