Burmese troops are enlisted to rescue stranded tycoon

The weight of Burma's military has been thrown behind efforts to locate and rescue one of the country's wealthiest businessmen – and a close ally of its military leader – after he became stranded on a remote mountain.

In events that underline both the wealth and influence of Tay Za, a military helicopter has been dispatched to try to rescue the businessman, whose own helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing on Fukanrazi mountain in a remote area of Burma's northern Kachin state on Monday. His company has separately chartered a private helicopter from neighbouring Thailand to fly to the mountain and locate the tycoon and his party.

Concerns about the safety of the 43-year-old and his group have increased after they were forced to spend two nights at an elevation of 12,000ft, where overnight temperatures have fallen to -15C. The MI-17 military helicopter dispatched to help in the rescue effort was apparently not able to fly high enough to reach the stranded group and so new measures were undertaken.

Last night, it was reported that rescuers, being co-ordinated from a Burmese Air Force site in Putao, 50 miles north of Kachin state's capital, Myitkyina, had made contact with the businessman and his party. It was unclear when precisely they might be rescued but reports added that once Tay Za was found, he would then be flown overseas for a medical check-up, most likely in Thailand or Singapore. "A military helicopter has located them and has dropped them food," a government official told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "We expect to get them out soon."

Tay Za, who owns a string of luxury hotels, an airline and a mobile phone company as part of an extensive portfolio of business interests, is sometimes said to be the third-richest man in Burma and is known to be a close friend of senior general Than Shwe. In the aftermath of the "saffron revolution" of 2007, when the military authorities brutally repressed a democracy movement led by monks and ordinary people, the US imposed a visa ban on the businessman, who also heads the Htoo Trading Company.

"Tay Za is Burma's best-known crony with very close ties to Than Shwe and the military regime," said Benedict Rogers, of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and author of Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant. "The mere fact that he was travelling by helicopter, that his company can hire another helicopter from Thailand, and that he can even contemplate travelling to another country for medical treatment, indicates his wealth and influence. Ordinary Burmese in a similar situation would be left completely unaided."

Reports suggest that the businessman, who spends much of his time in Singapore, had been in Kachin state with six other people pursuing opportunities to develop tourism. Their helicopter was forced to land on Fukanrazi, which is also known as Ice mountain, because of bad weather and was then unable to take off again. The privately chartered helicopter, rented in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, first flew to Mandalay for refuelling before continuing on to join the rescue efforts, which also involves troops from the army's Northern Regional Military Command.

Tay Za is the owner of a handful of private banks in Burma. His son Pye Phyo Tay Za was last year involved in a legal battle with the EU over financial matters. Travel sanctions were imposed against him.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future