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British explorer Benedict Allen is thought to be missing after setting out on an expedition to reconnect with an indigenous tribe in Papua New Guinea.

He first met the Yaifo tribe 30 years ago and was once again trying to reach them in order to create a record of their lives and meet some of those he encountered previously.

The documentary-maker was dropped off at an abandoned mission station, Bisorio, roughly three weeks ago and was expected to return to the capital by Sunday in order to catch a flight to Hong Kong, where he was due for a talk. As of yet, he hasn’t returned and there has been no contact with him.

Benedict Allen
Photo: @benedictallen / Twitter

Before leaving, Allen wrote a blog post about the expedition and how he was going to return: “Either I must paddle down river for a week or so – or enlist the help of the Yaifo, as I did last time; together we managed to achieve the only recorded crossing of the Central Range.

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

“So, don’t bother to call or text! Just like the good old days, I won’t be taking a sat phone, GPS or companion. Or anything else much. Because this is how I do my journeys of exploration. I grow older but no wiser, it seems…”

Allen is an incredibly experienced adventurer who has previously crossed the Amazon Basin on foot and in a dug out canoe, and was the first to document a journey along the length of the Namib Desert.

BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner told the Today programme that a helicopter search was underway from Allen’s last known point.

In his last tweet before setting off, Allen 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…).”

Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of support on social media with hundreds of messages wishing him well.

Adventurer Dave Cornthwaite tweeted: “Thoughts with @benedictallen’s family as they wait for word of his whereabouts in PNG. He’s a tough cookie, as old school as they come and one of the few true explorers left.”

Founder of Explorers Connect Belinda Kirk said: “It’s hard not to worry for #benedictallen he’s not only one of our most experienced explorers but also a true gent & thoughtful family man. But let’s remember he knows what he’s doing & hopefully just delayed.”

Ben Fogle tweeted: “Fingers crossed for Benedict Allen. A great man and experienced explore. Thoughts with his family.”

Featured image: Adrian Arbib