Helicopter carrying 13 foreign tourists disappears in Peru

A helicopter carrying 14 passengers, most of them from South Korea, was missing in Peru's highlands on Thursday, police said.

The last communication with 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.

It 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.

He said Helicusco provided a helicopter to assist in the search, but bad weather was preventing it from taking off. The company 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."

An official at the Korean Embassy in Lima said those aboard were not tourists, but were involved in commercial operations.

The official, Kristel Veliz, said no more information was immediately available.

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.