Myanmar tycoon leads search for 2 men missing on S-E Asia's highest peak

YANGON (AFP) - A rescue team led by a Myanmar tycoon left Yangon on Wednesday to search for two mountaineers who went missing around one week ago on South-east Asia's highest peak, an airport official said.

Expedition organisers said Mr Aung Myint Myat and Mr Wai Yan Min Thu lost contact with the rest of their team several days ago after reaching the summit of Hkaka Borazi in Myanmar's portion of the Himalayas. The mountain, in the northern state of Kachin, is 5,881m high.

Mr Tay Za, a tycoon with links to the former ruling junta and who is blacklisted by United States sanctions, left Yangon to launch a rescue mission to the mountain, which is in an area where he narrowly survived a helicopter crash a few years ago. "The team left by their special flight this afternoon," an official at the Yangon International airport told AFP, adding it would be based in the town of Putao in Kachin.

The tycoon, who has an empire spanning teak logs to an airline - although he has also been accused of arms dealing - is an enthusiastic moutainneer. He said on his Facebook page on Tuesday that his Htoo Foundation was sending two helicopters to the zone.

"Their families and friends are really worried about them."

The Htoo Foundation said bad weather had hampered earlier attempts to search for the men.