Thai chopper relief team found safe in Myanmar

Thai chopper relief team found safe in Myanmar

YANGON - A helicopter relief team has been found safe in remote northern Myanmar, officials said Tuesday, more than a week after losing contact during a rescue mission for two lost mountaineers.

The Thai pilot and two Myanmar crew, who were part of a search operation organised by controversial Myanmar tycoon Tay Za, made contact on Tuesday, ten days after their chopper vanished in bad weather in far northern Kachin state soon after take off.

"We have found three missing people from the helicopter," Nyi Min San, a spokesman of Tay Za's Htoo Foundation told AFP.

"As far as I know, they are in good health. We do not know the detail of what happened," he said.

He said that the men were found in a village miles away from where they had taken off from, but it was not immediately clear whether they had crash landed.

Rescuers on Saturday said they had suspended aerial searches because of extreme bad weather and heavy snowfall in the mountainous region.

Hopes are fading of finding the climbers alive after they lost contact with their team in early September.

The discovery of the helicopter, which had been carrying supplies to the rescue teams, was also confirmed by Thailand's Advance Aviation.

"Three people in the helicopter were found safely today," said sales manager Punyisa Chausong.

The missing climbers, Aung Myint Myat and Wai Yan Min Thu, lost contact with the rest of their team in early September after reaching the summit of 5,881 metres (19,295 feet) Hkaka Borazi in Myanmar's portion of the Himalayas.

Myanmar's Htoo Foundation is the charitable arm of the sprawling Htoo Group of Companies which spans teak logs to an airline.

Tay Za, who has also been accused of arms dealing, has links to the former ruling junta and is blacklisted by US sanctions.

The tycoon is an enthusiastic mountaineer and has an eco resort in the remote northern town of Putao.

He has travelled to the region to oversee the rescue efforts.

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