British explorer airlifted from remote jungle with suspected malaria
The father of three was dropped off in the dense Asian jungle three weeks ago with no phone or GPS tracker. The seasoned explorer’s family raised the alarm when he failed to board a flight from Port Moresby to Hong Kong.
Allen had hoped to reconnect with the Yaifo tribe, one of the last native tribes on earth to have no contact with the outside world. In a blog post from September, Allen recounted his last visit with the Yaifo tribe 30 years ago.
“Last time the Yaifo greeted me with a terrifying show of strength, an energetic dance featuring their bows and arrows,” he wrote.
“On this occasion who knows if the Yaifo will do the same, or run off, or be wearing jeans and T-shirts traded eons ago from the old mission station.”
Allen’s agent, Jo Sarsby, confirmed on Thursday that he had been spotted near a remote airstrip. He was understood to have been marooned near the runway after warring local tribes cut off access to roads and bridges.
“At 5pm local time (PNG) Mr Keith Copley, the Coordinating Director for New Tribe Mission in Papua New Guinea, confirmed in writing that Benedict Allen was safe, well and healthy and is presently located at a remote airstrip 20 miles northwest of Porgera, Enga Province,” Allen said on Thursday. “Confirmation on exact location coordinates [is] now being confirmed in order to arrange evacuation as soon as possible.”
Allen and BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner travelled to Papua New Guinea together twice in 2016.
The BBC correspondent said his friend had trekked "huge distances" to reach the remote airstrip.
"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. Urgent efforts are now underway to try to airlift him out as soon as possible in case fighting erupts around him.”
Gardner said he was "quite annoyed with him as a friend" for leaving without a plan.
"I'm sure he's come back with an incredible story to tell which will be fascinating and he'll regale audiences at the National Geographic Society and elsewhere but we could have done without this worry on his behalf,” he said.