A Nepalese choir which flew to Britain to take part in a music festival have “absconded” from a UK airport, shocked organisers have revealed.
Immigration officials were investigating after the ten-strong male choir vanished shortly after landing at Heathrow Airport.
The group had been due to perform in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival this week but disappeared after touching down at 7.30am.
Yesterday, the Home Office said they were investigating the whereabouts of the group and whether or not they had committed a crime by ‘absconding’.
Festival organiser David Peters had arranged to pick the group up from the airport but was stunned when he discovered they had landed – and then vanished.
Mr Peters said the disappearance was a “mystery”.
He added: “They did arrive at Heathrow and it seems they have absconded.
“We kept on hoping they had missed the plane, but we have been in touch with the immigration authority who are now investigating what has happened.
“It’s a great disappointment as they would have added an enormous amount of colour to the festival.”
The group had been booked to perform last night in Penzance, Cornwall, before appearing at venues across the county as part of the festival, which runs from April 27 to May 2.
It is the first time a group from the Indian sub-continent had been invited to take part in the festival.
The Nepalese singers, as well as singing in concerts in Cornwall, were due to hold workshops in schools.
But when Mr Peters arrived at Heathrow Airport in the Cornish festival minibus to pick them up at 7.30am on Tuesday, he was told the choir had already landed and disappeared.
He added: ”They have disappeared and as a result we made the authorities aware of that.
”I’m furious. We’ve had to re-organise everything that they were involved in.
We have thirty shows and the Nepalese choir were supposed to appear in most of them.
”The poor driver spent nearly all day looking for them on Tuesday. I naively hoped at first that perhaps they didn’t know what they were doing and were just confused in a foreign country but I fear they knew exactly what they were doing.
”I suspect they have absconded and that is why we have let the authorities know.
”They had an organiser who we dealt with in Nepal, but I didn’t speak with him directly.
”All I can say is that it is very sad.”
The Home Office was yesterday investigating whether the group had travelled on working or tourist visas in a bid to determine whether the incident would become a criminal matter.
A spokesman said: ”We know they landed in Heathrow on Tuesday and passed through passport control with no problem.
”The issue is that if they came in on a tourist visa they have done nothing wrong by not attending the festival.
”However, if they came in on a working visa, sponsored by the chairman of the festival, then they would be breaking the law if they did not perform in Cornwall at 7.30pm last night as agreed.
”If this were the case we would have to pass their details onto the police.”
More than 3,500 singers from more than 60 choirs are performing at venues across Cornwall, with a predicted aggregate audience of more than 40,000.
Also missing from proceedings is a Russian choir called Voice Message, who were detained in Ekaterinburg by Russian customs officials.
Organisers said they had been told by the choir that two members had previously worked for the military and were not allowed to leave Russia.
Speaking about the Russian choir, Mr Peters said: ”They had their visas and they were all ready to board the plane.
”Then we received an email that the Russian customs had said that as two of the singers had been employed by one of the military offices they would not let them board the plane.
”As there were only eight of them in the group it made it impossible for them to continue.”
There are other Russian choirs taking part in the festival, which started on Wednesday and runs until Monday.