An British explorer reported missing in Papua New Guinea earlier this month has thanked the Daily Mail for possibly saving his life by chartering a helicopter to rescue him.
Benedict Allen, 57, was reported missing when he failed to arrive at a scheduled speaking engagement in Hong Kong. He was airlifted to safety by the Daily Mail on 16 November.
Last week sister title the Mail on Sunday published an interview with the helicopter pilot questioning whether Allen needed rescuing. He said: “He wouldn’t have been starving. There was water. He was looked after.”
Allen, who travelled without a phone, was planning a jungle trek which would take him between warring tribes on the Pacific island.
When he was picked up he was said to be at the point of setting off to reach the nearest town on foot. This was a plan which his wife Lenka told the Daily Mail was “suicidal”.
The Mail reports that Allen wrote in his expedition notebook when he saw the helicopter: “Whoever God or the powers that be are, I want to hug and kiss them.”
Suffering from Malaria, he questioned whether he would have survived the planned walk.
“That walk would have taken me five days. Nobody would walk with me because of the ongoing war there.
“If I’d headed off by myself and been as ill as I was that night, I’d have veered off the path or laid down in the forest with fever. I certainly wouldn’t be here now.
“I’m so grateful to Sam [the Mail’s chief reporter Sam Greenhill, who hired the helicopter that airlifted him to safety] and to you, Linky [wife Lenka].”