5 Missing Americans, Lost on Tajikistan Kayak Trip, Found Alive

Posted by Spalding Hurst

October 3, 2013

DUSHANBE, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – A helicopter search team has found and rescued five Americans that went missing for several days while on a kayaking trip in Tajikistan, a source from the Interior Ministry told RIA Novosti Thursday.

One of the kayakers has a broken leg, but the other four are in satisfactory condition, the source said. The group is traveling to the Central Asian nation’s capital, Dushanbe, by helicopter. They couldn’t get in touch earlier with rescue teams in Dushanbe because of an equipment malfunction, the source said.

The travelers – Ben Luck, Cooper Lambla, Matt Klema, Nate Klema and Charles King – were in the middle of an extended adventure trip through Eurasia and were kayaking down eastern Tajikistan’s Balandkiik River when they set off an emergency beacon on September 30, indicating they were in trouble.

The signal’s GPS coordinates put their location inside Tajikistan’s Pamir National Park, a remote and wild area home to some of Asia’s highest peaks.

A helicopter search-and-rescue team sent out October 1 discovered a broken kayak with a backpack in the region, Outside adventure travel magazine reported on its website. Immediately after the discovery, another emergency signal was set off 6 miles (10 km) away, though rescuers could not continue the search because of imminent nightfall, the site said.

The GPS coordinates indicated that the men were retracing their path, friends and family told the Durango Herald, a newspaper local to the Colorado town where three of the men were reportedly from. As they were all experienced travelers, the slow pace of the group’s progress between the two signals probably indicated someone had been hurt, the families said.

The travelers had already spent two months in Siberia and Kyrgyzstan, relatives told the Durango Herald. They were planning to spend about two weeks in Tajikistan before traveling to Nepal and possibly India and China, not returning to the US before December.


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