Hikers En Route To World Cup Disappear In Iran

Hikers En Route To World Cup Disappear In Iran

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish man trekking from Madrid to Doha to attend the 2022 Qatar World Cup has not been heard from since he crossed the border into Iran three weeks ago. , his family said on Monday, raising concerns about his whereabouts.

Santiago Sánchez, 41, is an experienced hiker, ex-paratrooper and avid football fan who was last seen in Iraq after crossing 15 countries. Over the past nine months, he has shared his travels extensively on his Instagram.

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Sanchez’s family last heard from him on October 2, the day after he crossed the Iraqi-Iranian border.

“We are very worried. My husband and I can’t stop crying,” Celia Kogedor, the hiker’s mother, told the Associated Press.

Celia and Sánchez’s father Santiago, clearly exhausted, sat by the fireplace in the family’s home in central Spain to share with reporters the last precious voice message his son sent that morning.

“I’m with my friend who picked me up. And we’re going to Bandar Abbas, 1,700 kilometers south of Iran, near the island of Hormuz,” Sanchez said softly.

The Spanish explorer explained that the next day he intended to travel to Tehran, captain of Iran, where he would be interviewed by a television station. His next destination was Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran. Then I boarded a ship to Qatar.

Sanchez warned his family before crossing that it would be difficult to communicate in Iran.

“You don’t have to worry that after a few days he won’t announce anything. He’ll agree with what he says. But eight or nine days later, my daughter and close friends…we’ve already announced her disappearance.” I started thinking that I should report it,” the mother added.

Her parents reported her missing on October 17, indicating that Spanish police and diplomats were helping them.

Spain’s foreign ministry said it had no knowledge of Santiago Sanchez’s whereabouts, adding that the Spanish embassy in Tehran was dealing with the situation. Iran’s foreign ministry did not respond to a call for comment.

This is not the first time Sanchez has visited Iran. In 2019 he cycled a similar route between Madrid and Saudi Arabia.

Sanchez’s disappearance in Iran comes amid growing protests in the Islamic Republic, the largest opposition movement in a decade.

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