A tourist from Staten Island, U.S. has gone missing while vacationing in Istanbul. 33-year-old freelance photographer Sarai Sierra was traveling alone, reports say.
Sierra was set to return on Tuesday, January 22, but she wasn't on the flight that arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport. Her family last spoke to her just one day before, as she was preparing to leave the country.
Her husband, Steven, told the Staten Island Advance that Sarai was traveling alone, and was set on experiencing "something outside the box." She was supposed to be joined by a friend who backed out at the last minute, and she decided against canceling the trip.
"She was excited about getting the chance to take pictures there. I was nervous about her going alone from the start, but I wanted to support her. [...] We just want to find her and get her home safe," he says.
She departed on January 7, and has since kept in touch with her family. They last heard from her on Monday, when she sent a text message that read "I'll be home tomorrow. Yay!"
"Something didn't strike me well to begin with on Monday. We stayed in touch the entire trip, and then it just stopped," Sierra adds.
She checked into a hostel and toured the Turkish capital, during which time she called her family on a regular basis. When she was a no-show at the airport, they contacted the FBI and the United States Embassy in Turkey.
Police in Istanbul scoured her room at the hostel and found her passport, medical cards and phone chargers, a sign that she hadn't packed to leave for home.
"We are troubled by the facts surrounding Ms. Sierra's disappearance and my office has been working around the clock to locate her and return her home safely to her family. [...] We remain in constant contact with officials in the US and Istanbul, and will continue to urge them to use all available resources to find Ms. Sierra," Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island states.