French Brazilian hiker goes missing in malawi
….with temperatures dropping on our continent… hikers beware. In the news article below; there are three possibilities:
1) Mount Mulanje has had cases of people disappearing mysteriously, an occurrence connected to spiritual activity on the mountain. This man may have fallen victim to that or
2) temperatures around this part of Africa are dropping, so this hiker’s going up the mountain with a t-shirt and biscuits is something that could probably have been safe to do 50 years ago, Winter in Africa was kinder then, or, sadly
3)the zeal of youth....
The News Article:
____A 23-year-old French-Brazilian hiker has gone missing in one of Malawi's mythical mountains, the southern African country's environmental and security authorities disclosed Monday.
"Last Friday afternoon a French hiker attempted to climb Sapitwa Peak but failed to return to Chisepo Hut and since then there has been no sign of him," said Hastings Maloya, Communications Officer for the Mulanje Mountain Cons ervation Trust (MMCT).
At 3,002 metres above sea-level, Sapitwa Peak is the highest point on Mulanje Mountain, the highest in this part of Africa.
Police have since identified the missing hiker as Gabriel Buchman, who holds dual French and Brazilian citizenship.
Mulanje Police spokesman Raphael Makondetsa said Buchman arrived in the district on Thursday and attempted to climb the mountain on Friday.
"He took a tour guide with him from Likhubula (the base of the mountain) up to Chambe Basin but turned back the porter, saying he was an experienced mountain climber," he said.
Makondetsa said a statement by the tour guide indicated that Buchman had boasted climbing mounts Kilimanjaro and Everest.
But the police spokesman said the weather had been harsh since Thursday and a group of German hikers, who abandoned their attempt to conquer the peak due to bad weather, advised forestry, police and MMCT official not to allow anyone to goup until the weather improved.
"But Bushman was already up there and we have declared him missing since Friday, " he said.
Makondetsa said Buchman's next of kin in both France and Brazil had been informed about his status and were getting updates about the rescue efforts.
Maloya said: "The Mount Mulanje Rescue Team was mobilised on Sunday to begin a formal search operation around the slopes of Sapitwa and is now working within the area. The search is being organised by the Department of Fore stry and Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust."
But chances of finding him alive, according to police, were slim.
"The problem is that Buchman went up there only dressed in a T-shirt and with only biscuits as food," he said. "The weather has been very bad since Thursday. In fact it's raining right now and we are freezing. I can't imagine what the weather is like up there."
Meanwhile, the governments of France and Brazil have joined the rescue efforts and, according to Makondetsa, military helicopters will be deployeed to ulanje on Tuesday.
"If the weather improves we will let the helicopters fly but as it is now it's risky to fly anyone up there," he said.
Mulanje Mountain, which lies some 80 kilometres south of Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, is full of myths.
It is believed that spirits of ancestors of people around the area roam the mountain and snatch people if they are displeased by something.
Although the myths cannot be proven scientifically, locals believe them because several people have gone missing in the mountain but no bodies have ever been found despite exhaustive searches using helicopters and sniffer dogs.
Buchman went missing five years after another hiker, a Dutch nurse named Linda Pronk, also disappeared.
Pronk went missing in the mountain in 2003 but despite exhaustive searches by Malawian soldiers and Dutch professional rescue teams, using sniffer dogs and helicopters, no body was recovered.
According to Malawi laws, a missing person is certified dead at the expiry of seven year, so Pronk is still registered as 'missing'.___
Blantyre - 20/07/2009
By Raphael Tenthani, PANA Correspondent