Missing Australian surfers used charred van found in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A burnt-out van containing two charred corpses found in a part of Mexico notorious for drug trafficking belonged to one of two Australian surfers who have gone missing in the region, Mexican state prosecutors said on Monday (Nov 30).

Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman were due to travel to the western city of Guadalajara on Nov 21 but never arrived, according to a message posted on social media site Facebook. They were both 33, according to local media.

The abandoned van was found near the Pacific coast in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, about 124 miles (200 km) south of where they were last seen and some 445 miles (716 km) north of Guadalajara, according to the Sinaloa state prosecutor's office.

Checks confirmed that the van was registered under Coleman's name, and had been purchased in the western Canadian province of Alberta, a spokesman for Sinaloa state prosecutors said.

Sinaloa is renowned in Mexico as the heartland of some of the country's most powerful and dangerous drug cartels.

The Sinaloa prosecutors said DNA testing was being used to identify the bodies, because they were too charred to recognise, and that the girlfriends of the two were helping.