LIMA, Peru (AP) — A helicopter carrying 14 passengers, most of them from South Korea, was missing in Peru's highland and snowfall was impeding efforts to reach the rugged terrain where the aircraft's emergency beacon indicated it was located, authorities said Thursday.
The last communication with the helicopter owned by Cuzco-based Helicusco was late Wednesday afternoon as it headed for Cuzco from the town of Mazuco in neighboring Madre de Dios state, said police Gen. Hector Dulanto.
The helicopter was carrying 11 South Koreans, two Austrians and a Peruvian passenger in addition to an undetermined number of crewmembers, he said.
The chopper was flying near Huallahualla, a town located at about 13,200 feet (4,000 meters) when communications were lost, said Dulanto, who was in charge of rescue operations.
The Interior Ministry said later in a statement that the helicopter's distress beacon indicated it was near a peak called Apu Colque Cruz in Cusco's Quispicanchi province.
A police helicopter tried to search for the aircraft but had to turn back, said Dulanto.
Helicusco issued a brief statement saying "operations on the ground with the search brigade have been going on since yesterday but it has not yet been possible to locate the helicopter." It did not identify the type of aircraft that was missing.
An official at the Korean Embassy in Lima said those aboard were not tourists, but were involved in commercial operations.
The official, Kristel Velez, said no more information was immediately available but that two embassy officials had traveled to Cuzco.
South Korean media quoted a foreign ministry official saying the passengers could not be contacted through their mobile phones but there was no automatic signal indicating a crash either.
The Yonhap report did not name the official.