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France - Spain

60-year-old French pilot found hanging from tree after three-day search

Motorglider type Silent 2
Motorglider type Silent 2 Wikimedia/J.Vandebeeck

Rescue workers found a 60-year old Frenchman hanging from a tree in the Pyrenees mountains on Thursday after a three-day search. His parachute had caught in the branches  after his motorglider crashed on the Spanish side of the border with France.

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After three days of intensive search - 80 hours of flying involving seven French and Spanish rescue planes and helicopters - Spanish air rescue services found the missing pilot seriously injured but alive near the tiny state of Andorra.

Bernard Mengin was airlifted to a hospital in the Spanish town of Lerida and is being cared for there but his life is not in danger.

"He must have gone through a terrible time" thanks to his injuries, his position in the tree and the cold nights, explained rescue officer David Segheto.

According to French radio RTL, Mengin said he "misinterpreted the weather forecast. I was in  a hopeless situation (...) I decided to land in a place I didn't know  and it went wrong (...) It's a miracle I'm here, thanks to the efforts of the rescue teams to locate me."

Mengin took off on Monday morning from Puivert aerodrome in south-west France but did not call anyone during the flight and his aircraft was not observed on any radar.

The alert was raised on Monday night but he was not found until Thursday.

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