Category: World / February 26, 2013 10:32 AM EST
Authorities in Peru have launched a search for a California couple reported missing while on a cycling trip through the country in an area where U.S. citizens have been warned of kidnapping risks, U.S. Embassy officials in Lima said on Monday (February 25).
Families of the couple, Garrett Hand and Jamie Neal, said they last heard from the pair on Jan. 25.
Security camera footage from Cuzco bus company Cruz del Sur, show images of passengers who appear to be Hand and Neal waiting to board the bus and on the bus.
The couple, both 25, were longtime friends who began dating last spring and lived together in Oakland, California, east of San Francisco.
Their disappearance coincides with a travel advisory issued by the U.S. Embassy on Feb. 13 warning foreign tourists near Cuzco and the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu of a potential kidnapping threat.
Hand and Neal originally had intended to bicycle from the San Francisco Bay area to South America through Mexico, but friends concerned about security in Mexico persuaded the couple to fly to South America and start their trip there instead.
Family members and friends of the pair have begun collecting money to offer as a reward, and were seeking to get flyers with pictures of the couple and information about them distributed in Peru.
Video Source: Reuters