‘Don’t try to rescue me’: Missing adventurer Benedict Allen's last post before disappearing in remote Papua New Guinea

'Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time', the explorer said prior to his trip

Harry Cockburn
Wednesday 15 November 2017 16:21
Family fear for missing British explorer Benedict Allen

A British explorer has gone missing in Papua New Guinea during an attempt to contact a tribe living in a remote area of jungle.

Benedict Allen, 57, has not been heard from in over three weeks after being dropped off by helicopter.

He was supposed to have begun his journey home on Sunday, but missed a flight to Hong Kong where he was booked to give a talk to the Royal Geographic Society.

He has not been heard from since late October. His last public post was earlier in the month when he tweeted a picture of himself wearing his rucksack on the way to Papua New Guinea. “Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time (don’t try and rescue me please - where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me you know...)”

His family is now concerned something may have happened to him on his trek.

Mr Allen was trying to reach the Yaifo people, who he first met 30 years ago in Papua New Guinea’s East Sepik province. He was trying to meet them again to film them for a new documentary.

He had no telephone or GPS device with him for the trip which was expected to take him through very remote areas of jungle.

According to the Daily Mail, Mr Allen’s agent Joanna Sarsby said: "He is a highly experienced explorer, very clever and resourceful and adept at surviving in the most hostile places on Earth, and he would never give up. He may not be a young man any more but he is very fit.

"He was trying to reach the Yaifo people, a very remote and reclusive tribe - possibly headhunters, quite a scary bunch. Goodness knows what has happened.

"I just imagine he might have been taken ill or is lying injured somewhere, perhaps with a broken leg, and maybe being helped by locals."

She added: “He never takes a phone with him - he believes in living like the locals. For him not to come back is really odd.”

His sister Katie Pestille, told the Mail she was not worried about the tribes he wanted to encounter, but was concerned about drug barons she said may be operating in the area.

She said: “I am not worried about the indigenous local tribes. They knew Benedict and trusted him. You think these jungles are empty but all sorts of people live there.

“In the past he has come across drug barons and loggers. It's an awful worry, if they came across him they could have robbed him and just left him there.”

She also said that in the past he had been missing for three months and was feared dead during an expedition to the Amazon 35 years ago.

On that occasion in 1982, Mr Allen got lost in the jungle escaping goldminers who attacked him. He survived by eating a stray dog whose paw he had healed.

“I was starving to death – the only thing left was to eat the dog,” he said afterwards.

Ahead of his latest trip, Mr Allen warned that he was not taking a telephone, and that it could take him longer than planned to get home.

In a September blog post titled “I may be sometime”, he wrote: “The Yaifo are one of the last people on the entire planet who are out of contact with our interconnected world.

“I'm hiring a helicopter to drop me off at the abandoned mission station, Bisorio – a forlorn place.

“Last time, the Yaifo greeted me with a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows. On this occasion who knows if the Yaifo will do the same. Nor do I have an obvious means of returning to the outside world, which is somewhat worrying, especially at my advanced age.

“Either I must paddle down river for a week or so – or enlist the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time.

“So, if this website or my Twitter account falls more than usually silent – I'm due back mid-November – it's because I am still out there somewhere.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Our staff are assisting the family of a British man who has been reported missing in Papua New Guinea, and are contacting the local authorities.”

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