Snow Hinders Peru Search for Helicopter Carrying Samsung Workers

Peruvian police are struggling amid worsening weather conditions to find a helicopter that went missing in the southern Andes yesterday carrying at least 12 passengers, including eight South Koreans.

The helicopter left the jungle town of Mazuco at 4:30 p.m. local time after surveying by air three proposed sites for a hydro power plant near the Inambari river, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement. The craft disappeared as it crossed the Andes to reach the city of Cuzco, police general Hector Dulanto told state television channel TV Peru yesterday.

Three of the South Koreans are from Samsung C&T Corp., two work for Korea Engineering Consultants Corp., two are with Seoyeong Engineering Co., while one works for Korea Water Resources Corp., said Cho Keun Ho, a Samsung C&T spokesman. One Dutch national was traveling as part of the Samsung delegation and three people from Samsung C&T’s local partner were also aboard, Cho said. There were also Austrian passengers, according to Dulanto.

The last signal from the craft’s global positioning system is believed to have been sent from Marca Pata, located 4,600 meters (15,092 feet) above sea level, the ministry said. Police are heading to the area by land as heavy snow and frost is making a search by air difficult, it said.

The helicopter may have made an emergency landing in the area of Hualla Hualla, located at more than 5,000 meters above sea level, Dulanto said. The pilot and a second crewmember were Peruvian, TV Peru said on its website without saying where it obtained the information.

The helicopter belonged to Helicopteros del Cusco SA, which flies tourists to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and transports personnel and cargo for the mining and oil and gas industry, according to the company’s website.

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