'I didn't need rescuing': Papua New Guinea explorer denies he was lost and says 'it wasn't a publicity stunt'

British explorer Benedict Allen says he ‘did not need rescuing’ after being pulled from Papua New Guinea jungle
British explorer Benedict Allen says he ‘did not need rescuing’ after being pulled from Papua New Guinea jungle

A British explorer has said that he was not lost and did not need rescuing from his expedition to Papua New Guinea.

Benedict Allen, 57, denied that the mission to find the Yaifo — a tribe with no contact with the outside world — was a publicity stunt.

The explorer was picked up by a helicopter three weeks after he left Heathrow airport. He had no mobile phone or GPS device with him.

The Daily Mail ran a triumphant front page in which it said proclaimed: “Mail saves malaria-hit British explorer from jungle as he is caught between warring tribes.”

It described how it chartered a helicopter to find him.

However, when asked if he needed rescuing, the father-of-three said: “Er, it … no,” adding that he was “slightly bewildered by the attention”.

“I’m not up to speed with what people have been saying, I haven’t read the newspapers, I gather there’s been all this interest,” he said from his home in west London.

“The journalists [on board the helicopter] when they turned up, I happily accepted their phone, they saw me with malaria and took me to hospital.”

Allen was reported missing after he failed to board a flight back home. He told the BBC that his symptoms of malaria were genuine.


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“I can see why [people] get cynical and people have been known to do this, let’s face it. I videoed all of this and you can see me deteriorating with malaria,” he said.

Mr Allen said his final tweet before entering the jungle may have made people doubt him.

He wrote: “Marching off to Heathrow. I may be some time (don’t try to rescue me, please – where I’m going in PNG you won’t ever find me you know…”

“People are asking this question because I joked on Twitter as I left. I had no commission, I did no interviews before I left,” he said.

He said he had some regrets about not taking a mobile phone or GPS location device with him, but denied he “got lost”.

“I always knew where I was, things just began to go wrong,” he said.

In a bizarre turn of events, the Mail’s sister paper The Mail on Sunday discredited the story by speaking to a pilot in Papua New Guinea.

It quoted Craig Rose who claimed Allen had posed for pictures for an hour when the rescue team arrived. “It wasn’t as if he was in mortal danger,” Rose said.