Saturday, October 17, 2009

Missing American calls up wife

US citizen disappears from Sikkim, cops say he had taken a Siliguri-bound vehicle

Gangtok, Oct. 17: A US citizen, who had mysteriously disappeared from Sikkim nine days ago forcing his Chinese wife to alert police here, today called her up and said he was “safe”. But police said they were yet to trace him.

Fifty-three-year-old Samuel Mitchell had arrived in Sikkim from Calcutta on September 26 and his wife had spoken to him from China for the last time on his mobile phone on October 7, Lu Yuan wrote in an email to a local publication house here on Wednesday.

Mitchell and his wife live in Kunming, China, and when they spoke for the last time he had said he would return home on October 11.

“He had entered Sikkim on September 26 and he has not left the state as far as I can gather. My husband always informs me if there are any change of plans. But since October 7, his mobile phone is switched off, he is definitely missing and it is quite possible that he had suffered an accident,” she wrote in the email. She also said Mitchell’s Indian visa issued on December 22, 2008 by the Indian consulate in Guangzhou was valid till December 22, 2013.

A senior officer of Sikkim police, contrary to Lu Yuan’s claims, said investigations had revealed that Mitchell had left Sikkim on September 30 after he was put on a Siliguri-bound car by a local youth. “However, we are looking into the details of the case and further investigations are on,” the officer said. He added that after a missing bulletin was issued in a local paper, the youth had contacted the police and given them this information.

The deputy inspector-general of police (range), N. Sridhar Rao, said after the missing complaint was filed on Wednesday by the American consulate in Calcutta, all checkposts and police stations had been alerted. Lu Yuan had given all information about her husband to the American consulate on October 12 and 13.

Madan Saraf, associated with The School of Chinese Language in Calcutta, whom Lu Yuan had also got in touch with said she had called him today to inform that Mitchell had made contact with her over the phone.

“She called me around 4pm and said Mitchell had called her, but I have no further details. She said he did not sound well, so I fear that something is amiss,” Saraf told The Telegraph. He said he had met Mitchell, who is an educationist, once in Calcutta. “He is a very nice and dignified person and I hope that he is well. I had come in contact with Mitchell in connection with the language school.”

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