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Two months on, Jewish Canadian student still missing in Peru

Israeli search and rescue company deployed to track down backpacker Jesse Galganov

    Jesse Galganov (right) in an image circulated online by the family
    Jesse Galganov (right) in an image circulated online by the family

    Two months after Jesse Galganov vanished in Peru at the start of a solo backpacking trip, his family and friends remain resolved to determine his fate.

    “We are still actively searching,” his father Todd told a newspaper on Sunday in Huaraz, in a mountainous region in the centre of the country where his 22-year-old son was last heard from.

    “With the help of our team and the Peruvian police and government we are sure we will find him.”

    But there is a rising sense of dread as time advances without so much as a hint of what happened to him.

    The mystery of Mr Galganov’s disappearance has only deepened since the dual US-Canadian citizen was last heard from on September 28, a few days after leaving Montreal on a much-anticipated trip through South America and Southeast Asia.

    He was last seen leaving a Huaraz hostel for a bus to Caraz to join a multi-day hike on the Santa Cruz trail.

    But after not hearing from him when she expected to several days later, his mother Alisa Clamen immediately left Montreal for Peru and was later joined by Jesse’s father. They remain there, with the Peruvian national police, mountain guides, private investigators, the FBI and the US and Canadian embassies all deployed to find him.

    Despite the ongoing nightmarish circumstance, they have said they appreciate initiatives by the local Jewish community and friends to support the family and the efforts to find Mr Galganov.

    The family has also hired the Israel search and rescue company Magnus International.

    Not long after his disappearance, supporters solicited 60,000 signatures on a petition to have encrypted data from his iPhone and Kindle released to Peruvian authorities – an initiative that proved successful.

    Friends and family also established a GoFundMe drive that has so far raised £80,000 to help pay for the search, and wealthy Montreal businessman Mitch Garber -- whose son is a friend of Mr Galganov -- donated a comparable amount to the Missing Children’s Network. There has also been a separate reward offered to anyone who can provide information leading to finding him.

    Within the Jewish community, overtures have included synagogue prayer vigils and challah bake sales, including at the school Mr Galganov attended as a child, the Solomon Schechter Academy.

    Chabad in Montreal and elsewhere have been encouraging Jews to observe Shabbat as a gesture for Mr Galganov.

    “I feel our community is behind me and you are all giving me so much strength,” Ms Clamen said in an email to Chabad last month.

    “This helps me keep going in the search to find my son and in my determination to bring Jesse home.”

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