Explorer rescued from jungle denies expedition was a publicity stunt
- Credit: PA
An explorer and former University of East Anglia (UEA) student who was rescued from Papua New Guinea after trying to find a remote tribe has dismissed accusations the mission was a publicity stunt.
Benedict Allen, 57, who had no mobile phone or GPS device with him, was picked up by a helicopter crew three weeks after he left Heathrow airport bound for the jungle.
He was hoping to reach the Yaifo, a tribe thought to be one of the last on Earth to have no contact with the outside world.
But he was reported missing after he failed to board a flight back home via Hong Kong.
The father-of-three - who is missing a planned talk he was due to give in King's Lynn on Tuesday (November 21) while he recovers - told his friend, BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner, that his symptoms of malaria were genuine.
Asked whether it was a publicity stunt, he said: 'I can see why they get cynical and people have been known to do this, let's face it.
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'I videoed all of this and you can see me deteriorating with malaria.'
'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, I'm slightly bewildered by it.'
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He said he had some regrets about not taking a mobile phone or GPS location device with him, but denied he 'got lost'.
He told the BBC's Today programme: 'I always knew where I was, things just began to go wrong.'
Mr Allen's wife, Lenka Allen, previously told how the couple's children, 10-year-old Natalya, Freddie, seven, and two-year-old Beatrice, were missing their father.
The professional explorer joked that he needed 'a good florist' to help apologise to his wife.
Mr Allen was due to talk about his adventures at the Guildhall of St George, King's Lynn on Tuesday, November 21 as part of Lynn Festival's year-round series.
King's Lynn Festival chairman Alison Croose said: 'We are delighted to know that Benedict Allen is safe.
'But Lynn Festival and the Royal Geographical Society, who are jointly staging the event, agreed to cancel Tuesday's illustrated talk at St George's Guildhall, which was to be a highlight of the festival's year-round programme.
'We plan to reschedule Benedict Allen's visit in the next few weeks and it will be an extra-special event for the audience to hear first-hand about his latest adventures.'
Those who bought tickets for Tuesday's event will be contacted and can claim refunds from the Corn Exchange box office at the Tuesday Market Place, or by calling 01553 764864.