A Spanish man trekking from Madrid to Doha, Qatar for the upcoming 2022 World Cup is feared to be missing in Iran, his family told the Associated Press on Monday (October 25).
Santiago Sánchez, 41, was last seen in Iraq after successfully trekking through 15 countries during the past nine months and documenting his travel on his Instagram account, which has more than 43,000 followers.
Sánchez's family said they hadn't heard from him since he crossed the Iraq-Iran border on October 2.
“We are deeply worried, we can’t stop crying, my husband and I,” his mother, Celia Cogedor, told the AP.
Sánchez, an experienced trekker, had previously stated his intention to document his travel to the Middle East in an effort to show how others live.
"The idea of the journey is to motivate and inspire other people to show that they can go very far with very little," Sánchez told the AP from Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish city in northeastern Iraq, prior to his disappearance.
Sánchez was planning to do an interview with a television station in Tehran, Iran's capital city, before continuing his travel to Bandar Abbas en route to Qatar, which will serve as the first World Cup host country in the Arab world.
"After a few days, we didn't worry about him not posting; it matched what he had said. But after eight or nine days, my daughter and his closest friends ... we already began to think that we had to report his disappearance," Cogedor told the AP.
Spain's Foreign Ministry said it didn't have any information regarding Sánchez's whereabouts and said the issue was being handled by the country's ambassador to Tehran.