Explorer rescued from Papua New Guinea 'bewildered' by interest

A British explorer 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.

Speaking from his home in west London, the father-of-three 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.

"I videoed all of this and you can see me deteriorating with malaria."

Asked whether he needed rescuing, he added: "Er, it ... no.

"Well, 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.

"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."

Mr Allen said his final tweet before entering the jungle - which read: "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..." - might have prompted others to doubt the authenticity of his journey.

But he added: "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 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.