Rescue workers intensified their search efforts on Friday for a helicopter carrying more than a dozen people which went missing in southern Peru two days earlier, officials said. It remains unclear whether the chopper landed or crashed.
The Sikorsky S58ET helicopter took off from the Mazuco District in the Madre de Dios department at around 5:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday afternoon. The aircraft was reported missing soon after it failed to arrive as scheduled in the city of Cusco at 7 p.m. local time.
The aircraft was carrying a total of fourteen people, including eight South Korean nationals and one citizen each from Austria, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. In addition, three Peruvian citizens were also on board, among them one passenger, the pilot and the co-pilot.
Search-and-rescue operations were conducted in the Hualla Hualla locality of the Quispicanchi Province in the Cusco region on Thursday. However, Southeast Region Police chief General Hector Dulanto said the harsh weather conditions with heavy rainfall, snow and fog have hampered the efforts.
An MI-17 helicopter was deployed by Peru's National Police to assist the search-and-rescue teams, but operations were soon suspended due to the fog which has made a search from the air impossible. Dulanto said police teams on foot have continued their search, and locals in the region have also volunteered to find the helicopter.
The aircraft, which was operated by Cusco Helicopters (Helicusco), was contracted by a South Korean company in order to explore the region's rain forest.