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Jamie Neal, Garret Hand missing: California couple disappear in Peru

Peru's authorities launch a search mission amid fears of a possible kidnapping.

Garrett hand facebookEnlarge
Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal left California for Peru in November but lost contact on January 25. The pair had been cycling across South America and posting status updates and photos on Facebook. (Garrett Hand's Facebook page /Facebook)

PETALUMA, California -- Authorities in Peru have launched a search for a Bay Area couple gone missing late last month while reportedly on a cycling trip through a high-risk part of the country, according to CBS News

The US embassy in Lima is "in close contact with Peruvian authorities who are working diligently to find Mr. Hand and Ms. Neal," according to a statement on the case provided to Reuters on Monday.

The statement also said the couple's disappearance did not have any known connection with the February 13 travel alert issued by US authorities warning of possible kidnappings in Cusco and Machu Picchu areas, said Reuters.

Relatives told CBS Sacramento they had not heard from Neal, 27, or Hand, 25, since January 25. It was not immediately clear where they had been last seen; Reuters cited conflicting accounts. 

Kim Jerge, the owner of the  California Pedaler bike shop that employed Neal, told CBS he was "worried about her" after hearing about US travel alerts about rebel activity in Peru. He told Reuters he feared they'd been taken captive.

Another bike shop worker, Ron Hammer, said the two had been studying Spanish and were tent camping for most of their South American trip, according to Reuters.

Max Hunter, a friend of the two, told The Seattle Times that their last Facebook update was also on January 25, the same day their credit card activity was also reportedly cut off, according to CBS

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/130225/jamie-neal-garret-hand-missing-california-couple-disappear-per