Russia searches for Darfur pilot

2010-07-29 18:02

Moscow - Russia was trying to establish the whereabouts of a helicopter pilot who has been missing since Monday after making an emergency landing in Sudan's Darfur region, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"We are looking to establish the location of the helicopter pilot, Yevgeny Mostovshchikov," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The helicopter, which belonged to Russian company UTair, was contracted to the UN and was carrying rebels to talks in neighbouring Chad with representatives of the Sudanese government.

It landed in Aborjo in southern Darfur "to pick up another group of rebels and transport them to Chad," said the statement.

"We are trying to understand what happened after the landing," it said.

The helicopter returned to its permanent base in the city of Nyala on Tuesday with three of its four crew members.

The UN said on Tuesday the helicopter appeared to have landed at a spot different from what was planned because of bad weather and apparently surprised security forces, who detained the aircraft until its status could be clarified.

Moscow initially said the helicopter had been captured by rebels, before UTair said it had returned to base.