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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Father talks of kidnapped son
Chris and Sharelle Henderson
Mr Henderson says his son is tough enough to cope
The father of one of the two Britons kidnapped in Colombia has spoken about his "tough" son and says he expects him to write a book about his experiences when he returns.

Christopher Henderson from Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire said the entire family was "shocked" when they discovered that Mark, 31, a TV producer who was born Lincoln but now lives in London, was among a group of eight tourists held captive.

He and Matthew Scott, 19, who was born in London, are believed to have been captured by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Local reports said a massive manhunt was on for the kidnappers and their victims with up to 1,500 police and soldiers as well as nine Black Hawk helicopters joining the search.

Mr Henderson, 59, said of Mark: "He's pretty tough and I'm confident that he will be able to cope.

'He had saved for long time to make this trip, and had travelled throughout Central America for the past 4 months using public transport and trekking to some of the more remote areas."

"He was in good spirits when I spoke to him 10 days ago."

Mark Henderson
Mr Henderson was kidnapped along with seven other tourists
Mark and Mr Scott were snatched alongside a German, a Spaniard and four Israelis on a trek to the Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) ancient ruins in mountainous jungle in the northern region of Colombia.

Discovered in the 1970s, the Lost City is made up of a web of roads, terraces and small stone plazas thought to date from 500 BC. It is only accessible by a five-day trek or hired helicopter.

The attack took place in the Sierra Nevada, inland from the Caribbean resort of Santa Marta.

The eight abducted people were part of a larger group of 15 tourists that had earlier split in two. The seven others were all safe.

They told journalists in Santa Marta that they were probably allowed to go because they were physically unfit or did not have sturdy walking shoes.

The area is not one of those that the Foreign Office strongly advises against all travel to, but British tourists are told that overland travel in any part of Colombia is unwise.

Sierra Nevada is a disputed territory, fought over by Marxist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drugs traffickers, none of whom welcome foreign visitors.

Most of Colombia's 3,000-odd kidnappings every year - that is one every four hours - are carried out by FARC, who use the ransom to fund their 39-year war on the state.

Travel in the area is judged "unwise" by the Foreign Office
Tom Hart Dyke, 27, a botanist from Eynsford, Kent, was kidnapped in March 2000 after he travelled to the Colombia-Panama border to hunt for rare orchids. He was held for nine months.

He and a fellow British traveller, former City merchant banker Paul Winder, from Chelmsford, were kidnapped in the village of Payita in an area neighbouring the region where the two Britons have gone missing.

Mr Hart Dyke said the captives would now be feeling terrified.

He said: "You just have to take it day by day. They told us every day how they would execute us, with guns or chainsaws.

"They describe it to your face. They said, `You are going to die in these woods'."

After failing to get the ransom, Mr Hart Dyke believes, the rebels simply got tired of having to move with the captives and decided to release them.

The BBC's James Robbins
"The group who were kidnapped were hiking in the jungle"

Colombia cautious over rescue plea
01 Sep 03  |  Americas
Kidnapped tourists freed
22 Apr 03  |  Americas
Colombia's kidnap culture
12 Nov 02  |  Americas
Kidnapped in Colombia
13 Sep 02  |  Correspondent
Kidnap danger to tourists
15 Sep 03  |  UK

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