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1982: Mark Thatcher missing in Sahara

The British Prime Minister's son has been reported missing in the Sahara desert while taking part in an international motor race.

Mark Thatcher, his co-driver and mechanic were last seen two days ago near the Mali-Algerian border. They were competing in the Paris-Dakar rally.

Margaret Thatcher was said to be "very upset and very distressed".

The prime minister, though under obvious strain, is carrying out her appointments as normal.


" I've now raced in Le Mans and other things - this rally is no problem"

Mark Thatcher

A spokeswoman for the race's organisers, the Paris-based Automobile Sports Association, said they had seen traces of tyre tracks near Mr Thatcher's last known location, but that there was no sign of him now.

Reports of sightings of Mr Thatcher's white Peugeot 504 in two different parts of the country are being treated with caution.

This is Mr Thatcher's first Paris-Dakar rally, but he told the BBC before the race that this did not worry him. "I've now raced in Le Mans and other things - this rally is no problem," he said.

Despite the harsh terrain and lack of reliable information the ASA remains optimistic about finding Mr Thatcher and his team soon. Although drivers have lost their way during other Paris-Dakar races, they have always been found quickly.

In Context
Mark Thatcher, his co-driver and mechanic were discovered safe and well on 15 January, six days after going missing and 50 km (31 miles) off-route.

They were spotted by a C13Q Hercules search plane belonging to the Algerian air force.

The Thatcher team had been travelling in convoy with two other cars but became separated after stopping to repair a steering arm.

At dusk - lost and now also with a shattered rear axle casing - they set up camp and stopped to wait for help.

Mr Thatcher seemed unaffected by the ordeal, saying that all he needed was "a beer and a sandwich, a bath and a shave".


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