More than 30 Indian youths have disappeared in New Zealand, where they were in transit to go to Sydney for World Youth Day, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Church said on Monday.
Lyndsay Freear told Radio New Zealand that a party of 220 Indian Catholics who arrived in Auckland a week ago were due to fly to Sydney Tuesday, but 32 of them had disappeared.
All were billeted with church members in Auckland under a so-called Days in the Diocese programme before going to Australia, where Pope Benedict arrived Sunday for events associated with World Youth Day.
Freear said all the Indian pilgrims had been given 30-day visas when they arrived.
Their disappearance was "most extraordinary and most disappointing", she said.
She said the 32 who had disappeared from their billets did not have their passports with them and added, "We don't know whether this was planned or spontaneous."
She said that New Zealand immigration officials had been informed about their disappearance.