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Mystery of TV explorer missing on quest for cannibals; Fears he met 'bad people' in jungle.

Byline: MARTIN FRICKER

A BRITISH explorer has gone missing in a jungle while searching for a fearsome tribe of headhunters.

Benedict Allen, who has made six BBC series on his adventures, was dropped by helicopter three weeks ago with no phone or GPS in a remote area of Papua New Guinea, home to what is believed to be the last surviving cannibal tribe.

He failed to arrive in capital Port Moresby for a flight to Hong Kong on Sunday and his sister fears he may have encountered "bad people" in the jungle.

Dad-of-three Benedict, 57, previously stayed with the reclusive Yaifo tribe in the 1980s but admitted he did not know whether they would welcome his return or whether he could still manage the gruelling trek.

In his last tweet on October 11, he wrote: "I may be some time. Don't try to rescue me, please - where I'm going you won't ever find me..."

BBC journalist Frank Gardner, who previously went to the country with Benedict, said the adventurer had told him "people FAMILY MAN Benedict and wife Lenka shouldn't worry" if he was out of contact for a long time during the trek.

Mr Gardner added: "I'd say the chances are that Benedict is going to be fine. I hope those aren't famous last words."

Benedict's agent Joanne Sarsby said the Yaifo tribe were "possibly headhunters, quite a scary bunch". She added: "I just imagine he might have been taken ill. He never takes a phone with him. For him not to come back is really odd."

His sister Katie Pestille said: "There are bad people in these jungles... loggers and drug dealers and all sorts of bad people."

She added that he had previously gone missing for three months in the Amazon.

The helicopter pilot who dropped him off at an abandoned mission station is tracking the route he was due to take. Local police have joined the search.

Before the trip, Benedict, married to wife Lenka for 10 years, wrote: "Even aged 26 it was a very hard hike up through rather treacherous terrain. Nor do I have an obvious means of return..." He said if his blog or Twitter account was not updated "it's because I am still out there somewhere".

martin.fricker@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

FAMILY MAN Benedict and wife Lenka

LAST TWEET Benedict posted before his trip

TRIBE Cannibals in the country

OUT OF CONTACT Benedict Allen never takes a phone on his trips

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 16, 2017
Words:412
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