THE family of a young woman from Colchester reported missing in Sri Lanka have spoken of their relief after she was found.

Lauren Smith’s family and friends launched a frantic appeal for information via social media after the “hardcore” traveller uncharacteristically vanished.

Lauren, 26, of Highwoods, had not been seen since she left a B&B she had been staying at in the country’s capital Colombo, at 6.30am local time on Monday.

She’d told the owner she was going to the local shops but left all her belongings, including cash and her passport, in her room.

After not returning for 24 hours, the owner contacted her family in the UK and a widespread appeal for information as to her whereabouts was launched.

Brother Ashley, 29, had been preparing to fly to Sri Lanka to hunt for Lauren on Tuesday, while Sri Lankan and Essex Police had started to investigate the former St Helen School pupil’s disappearance.

But by mid-afternoon yesterday she was located.

Her fraught parents Ross and Sally were due to make the 16-hour flight to Sri Lanka last night to bring her home.

Ashley said: “I got a phone call from my mum who had call from the hotel owner and they have located her.

“As far as I know she is OK.”

He added: “I can relax now but not fully until I know she is in the care of my parents.

“I am over the moon - but that doesn’t even come close.”

Last night he thanked the public for spreading the word via Twitter and said he hoped to acertain more details once his parents arrived in Sri Lanka.

See Wednesday's Gazette