‘Missing’ British filmmaker sighted in PNG

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A file photo shows a man looking across the landscape of Papua New Guinea. Flickr/eGuide Travel CC BY

SYDNEY (Reuters) – A British explorer reported missing while searching for a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea has been spotted next to an airstrip and is awaiting evacuation, a friend said yesterday.

Benedict Allen, a documentary filmmaker, left last month to seek an isolated tribe, the Yaifo, in the north of the remote and rural South Pacific country of Papua New Guinea, but took no means of communication and left no evacuation plan or destination, his friend, Frank Gardner, said.

According to his blog, Mr Allen aimed to be back in Britain by mid-November. “Don’t try to rescue me, please – where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me you know,” he wrote on Twitter on October 11.

But after he missed a flight home last weekend, friends and family raised the alarm.

“Benedict Allen is not out of danger yet. He is currently marooned in a remote part of Papua New Guinea that is only reachable by air after all the road bridges were cut due to tribal fighting,” Mr Gardner, who is also the BBC’s security correspondent, said. “Urgent efforts are now under way to try to airlift him out as soon as possible in case fighting erupts around him.”

Mr Gardner had earlier told the BBC a PNG tribal commission had been looking for Mr Allen and that he had been sighted by an airstrip.

Mr Allen, who calls himself an “adventurer” on his website, describes being “beaten daily for six weeks” on a previous trip to PNG as part of an initiation ritual. He also describes trekking a remote section of the Amazon, “during which, dying of starvation and malaria”, he was forced to eat his dog.

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