Family's fresh hope for man missing for 14 years
The Herstmonceux family of a man who has been missing for 14 years say they are convinced he is still alive.
Christian Velten, known as Chris, disappeared in 2003 at the age of 27 while he was travelling through Africa.
Since then the Velten family have had confirmed sightings of Chris in Ghana in 2005 and more recently in Nairobi in 2015.
His sister Hannah has been at the forefront of a fresh appeal for information on her brother’s whereabouts.
“Chris is still out there somewhere - we’re sure of that,” said Hannah, from Uckfield.
“Fourteen years we’ve waited for him. Now, with hope recently renewed by the first positive news in 10 years, we - his family and friends - need to connect with him.”
Hannah said Chris lived in Brighton and left the UK in February 2003 to travel in the footsteps of the 18th-century Scottish explorer, Mungo Park. He was travelling alone and planned to spend six months travelling through Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
There was a sighting of Chris in April 2003 in Bamako, Mali.
“Since 2003 we had heard nothing - good or bad - until March 5 2016,” said Hannah, “when Raabia Hawa, a Kenyan conservationist, came forward recognising the photograph of Chris with the anaconda which he was using as a Facebook profile image.
“Following an appeal in the Kenyan press, we now have confirmed sightings of Chris in 2005 and 2015. If anybody knows of him, or of his whereabouts, please get in touch.”
Chris’s mother and father Pauline and Tim say their son had spent a gap year in Australia and was a “young man with a zest for adventure”.
The last time Mrs Velten spoke to her son was on March 23 2003 when he rang her from Kita in Mali, west Africa.
She said his aim was to make a documentary and armed with a video camera, he was making his way on foot and by donkey and dug-out canoe from Gambia through Senegal, Mali and Niger to Nigeria.
Initially Mr and Mrs Velten led the search for their son with assistance from Interpol and Sussex Police.
Hannah has since taken over the hunt and spoke recently at a Missing People carol service in London with Sir Trevor McDonald.
For more details, visit the Searching for Chris Velten page on Facebook.