An international film team which apparently disappeared while on assignment in a remote part of Namibia has been found safe in a bizarre case said to involve a Hollywood sex guru, a Russian Rambo, a British businessman and African witchcraft, The Associated Press reported.
U.S. and British diplomatic officials said Saturday that a group of foreigners — comprising two Americans, a Briton, a South African and a Russian — were located in the Epupa region of northwestern Namibia.
“The crew members were rescued this afternoon, and they are generally in good health,” said the U.S. embassy spokesman in Namibia, Stan Harsher. A British embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, concurred and said the embassy hoped to speak to the crew on Sunday.
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The team apparently went missing early last week while trying to film a documentary on witchcraft, according to a Los Angeles-based publicist, Sherri Spillane, who said they were chased out of a village where they were trying to film.
Spillane, who represents people who gained prominence on reality TV, identified the missing as Los Angeles pilot Christopher Banninger; British-born businessman Mike Edson; Russian actor Oleg Taktarov; South African athlete K.J. Lodge; and a sex therapist and radio host who goes by the name of Natasha Terry.
Spillane said the witchcraft documentary project “had been going haywire” when the crew decided to go camping last week. At one point, the crew had been chased out of a village, she said. They failed to connect with their helicopter pilot and disappeared without trace, she said.
However, local officials and newspapers voiced doubt about the whole scenario. The claims were barely reported in the Namibian press and were met with scepticism by local southern African newspapers. However, the Russian Embassy in Namibia investigated the disappearance of Taktarov, according to the Interfax news agency.
“Desert puzzle of sex guru and the Bear,” said Cape Town’s evening Argus newspaper on Friday. It described Terry as a “sultry sex therapist and talk show host” and Taktarov as a “Russian bear” who was a champion fighter born in Siberia and was subsequently protected by the KGB secret service before moving to the United States.