The mother of a Sheffield man who went missing in Nepal two years ago has returned to the place he was last seen alive to meet relatives of other missing trekkers – and one found murdered.
Zisimos Souflas, aged 29, disappeared two years ago after leaving his hotel, either to trek to Everest Base Camp or to complete an acclimatisation day before the 16,900ft ascent he was planning.
He failed to return home on the flight he was booked onto and, despite widespread searches involving the Nepalese army and sherpas, he has not been seen since.
His mum Pauline Souflas, from Woodseats, met other concerned families at the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal yesterday to raise awareness about Zisimos and other missing trekkers – and to encourage travellers not to trek alone.
She was joined by two families of missing loved ones who also vanished in Nepal, and another family whose loved one was murdered there.
Zisimos, a former student at All Saints High School on Granville Road, who went on to St Andrew’s University to study business, had travelled to Nepal initially to attend a friend’s wedding in Kathmandu.
He had already been missing a month when he failed to fly home, with the last sighting of him at a hotel on April 24, 2012. Speaking on behalf of her mum Pauline, dad Stavros and brother Luke, Zisimos’ sister, Sophie, 26, who is reading law at Cardiff University, told The Star her family want answers.
She said they have been left ‘clutching at straws’ for two years when coming up with possible theories as to what happened to him. One suggestion is Zisimos may have fallen ill while trekking if he did not complete the acclimatisation needed before climbing at high altitude.
Another theory is he may have joined a Buddhist retreat.
“I spoke to Zisimos 10 days before he was last seen at his hotel and there was nothing untoward then – we were making plans to take a Greek course together,” she said. “His disappearance has had a devastating effect on our family, we have all struggled.
“There are no clues as to what has happened to him, and I still find it surreal and can’t comprehend my brother has just vanished. If he had died you could grieve, but it’s that we don’t know which is difficult.
“I can’t be upset or hopeful, because I am just in limbo, just left wondering.”
She said her mother’s trip to Nepal was to raise awareness of Zisimos’ disappearance and to warn other trekkers not to travel alone.
“What is similar about each of the cases is they had all set off alone,” she added.
Zisimos’ schoolfriend Liam Ronan added: “Before Zis went missing he was really interested in volunteering, going to Palestine for example and becoming really passionate about wanting to help people. He went to Nepal and planned to come back with a view to forming some sort of social enterprise in Britain to help disadvantaged people.
“When he first went missing we were not really surprised, because you could imagine him wandering off on some adventure. But the longer he was missing we started to feel desperate – and now we feel frustrated that we don’t know where he is.”