MISSING PNG POLICEMAN FOUND IN HIGHLANDS

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JUNGLE
Naked, next to coiled serpent

By David Terry PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 9, 2011) - Fifty-two hours after his disappearance, First Constable Mathew Kami was found naked but alive, deep in the jungles of Upele between Tari Gap and Beneria in Southern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea.

Constable Kami was found at around 3 pm on Monday afternoon by four local villagers who carried the policeman for more than five hours, on a makeshift stretcher made of tree branches and vines.

The four men carried Kami through thick jungle and crossed fast flowing rivers to reach Ambua where police were camping.

The 32-year-old policeman from Tamunum village, East Sepik Province, went missing when pursuing suspects involved in the rape of five women along the Ambua highway on Saturday.

His wife and three children were informed about the rescue on Monday night and arrangements were being made for them to travel to Tari to be reunited with their father.

Locals who rescued the policeman said Constable Kami was lying next to a large serpent when they found him in dense jungle several kilometers away from where he was last seen.

They also found his weapon, a high powered police issued A2 rifle and have returned it to the police in Tari.

In an interview, the villagers said the snake coiled itself close to where he was lying but slithered away when the rescuers recited a prayer.

Policemen engaged in the search and rescue operation were mystified because Upele is far flung, it is separated by at least four fast flowing rivers and is about 5 hours walk from Ambua.

The survivor appeared weak and delirious when he was taken to the Tari hospital at 10 pm last night and placed in intensive care.

Medical Superintendent of Tari Hospital Dr Hamiye Hewali said Constable Kami would continue to receive fluids in drips until he regains his strength.

He said blood tests would also be taken to examine the presence of diseases and depending on the outcome of the tests, appropriate medication would be prescribed for the patient.

Policemen who took him to the hospital said Kami ate wild taro and ferns during his 52 hours ordeal in the jungle.

Commander of Operation Paijele Haminye Acting Chief Superintendent David Manning thanked the villagers for saving the policeman’s life and said investigations would be conducted into Kami’s disappearance and recovery.

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