Lost exterminator survived on bugs

July 30, 2008 8:46:01 AM PDT
Lost in the rocky, remote Australian Outback, a former pest exterminator faced dehydration and death. Desperate for food, he turned to what he knew best -- bugs, police said Wednesday. Theo Rosmolder, 52, managed to survive for four days by feasting on termites and other insects before local Aborigines happened upon him Tuesday and brought him back to civilization.

He was suffering from dehydration but otherwise in "surprisingly good condition," Western Australia state police Sgt. Graham Clifford told The Associated Press.

Clifford said the insects and termites provided Rosmolder a bit of moisture and some protein.

"He kept eating what he used to kill," Clifford said.

Rosmolder had been searching for gold with his wife and a group of other prospectors about 80 miles north of Laverton, a mining town in southwestern Australia, police said.

On Friday, he became lost after heading out alone, armed only with a pocketknife, flashlight and a metal detector, Clifford said. His prospecting group called police Friday night after he failed to return to camp.

Police launched a large search operation at first light Saturday morning, with dozens of searchers combing 77 square miles of the rocky desert terrain by land and air.

"The chap did say he saw planes on a number of occasions and waved items of clothing, but they didn't attract the attention," Clifford said.

On Tuesday morning, a couple members of a local Aboriginal community who were out shooting spotted Rosmolder about 6 miles from his camp. He was still holding onto his metal detector.

Rosmolder was treated and released from Laverton Hospital the same day, authorities said. He was in a remote desert area Wednesday and not immediately reachable by telephone.

Rosmolder told officials that he planned to continue his gold hunting vacation.

"Why not?" Clifford said with a chuckle.

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