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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 01:42 GMT
Japanese balloonist goes missing
Michio Kanda (r) in a file photo from 2004
Mr Kanda has 30 years of ballooning experience
A Japanese hot air balloonist has gone missing while trying to break his own world record in a flight from Japan to the US.

The US coastguard began searching for Michio Kanda after he lost contact with his support crew late on Thursday over the North Pacific.

Mr Kanda, 58, was trying to fly from Tochigi in Japan to Portland, Oregon.

He was hoping to break records for the longest hot-air balloon journey both in distance and duration.

Mr Kanda was reported missing after he failed to check in with his support team by satellite phone.

The US coast guard sent out a boat and two planes, but the search was reportedly hampered by bad weather.

The balloonist was trying to surpass a long-distance world record of 4,767 miles (7,671 km) according to the Anchorage Daily News.

He also wanted to break a duration record he had set in 1997 with a flight of 50 hours, 38 minutes from Alberta in Canada to Montana in the US.

The flight from Tochigi to Portland would be nearly 5,600 miles (9,000km) and would take an estimated 60 hours.

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