US Student Goes Missing During Hiking Trip In Siberia

A search is underway in eastern Siberia for a U.S. student who vanished during a hiking trip more than three days ago.

Police told ABC News they were scouring the forests around the village of Arshan in the Buryatia region searching for 25-year-old Colin Madsen, an American who had been studying at a university in the nearby city of Irkutsk.

Madsen had been on a hiking trip with a group of friends in the Sayan mountains in Buryatia, a mostly Buddhist republic located roughly 3,000 miles east of Moscow.

At around 3 a.m. on Sunday, Madsen left the guest house in Arshan where the group was staying and has not been heard from since, according to one of his friends, Natalya Tugutkhonova.

Tugutkhonova told ABC News that Madsen left the house wearing only trousers and a T-shirt, despite the sub-zero temperatures. His cell phone has been “unavailable” since Sunday, according to authorities.

Police issued a missing person poster for Madsen on Monday, and the regional branch of the Investigative Committee of Russia the equivalent of the FBI told AFP it was looking into the case.

Tugutkhonova, who was contacted by police after Madsen disappeared, said she could not understand why he would have left so abruptly and so lightly dressed.

Madsen’s friends in the area have been trying to help find him. One, Vlad Rasputin, posted on the Russian social media site VK today that he and others had arrived in Arshan to join the search.

Another set up a crowd-funding page to help Madsen’s mother fly to Irkutsk.

A post being circulated on VK calling for information about Madsen read, “Our friend and also just a very good person is missing.”

The area where Madsen vanished is remote, about 130 miles from Irkutsk, on the western side of Lake Baikal, a destination popular among foreign backpackers.

Rasputin wrote today that it was snowing in Arshan and there was heavy fog.

As of this evening, local time, police said they had no news of Madsen, but that they still had hope of finding him safe.

Madsen’s own social media accounts list him as a native of Jefferson City, Missouri. He’s been a student at Irkutsk State Linguistic University since 2013.

The U.S. embassy in Moscow told AFP that it was aware of the reports about the student, but could not comment further due to privacy reasons.

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