Quebec woman and travel companion feared missing in Burkina Faso, family says

MONTREAL — A Quebec woman who was travelling in Burkina Faso with a friend hasn’t been heard from in three weeks and is feared missing, her family said Saturday.

Sherbrooke native Edith Blais and her Italian friend Luca Tacchetto were travelling in the West African nation when all communication with their families “abruptly stopped” on Dec. 15, her sister Melanie Bergeron Blais said.

“There was no more communication with anyone, no more financial transactions either from her account since Dec. 11,” she said in a phone interview.

“She didn’t spend to eat, for a hotel, there’s nothing at all,” she said. “They’ve completely disappeared into the void.”

The pair were last seen in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, in the country’s southwest, and had planned to drive to the capital of Ouagadougou before crossing into neighbouring Togo, the family said.

However, there’s no indication that the pair applied for visas or crossed the border into either Ghana or Togo, Bergeron Blais said.

Bergeron Blais described her 34-year-old sister as an adventurous and experienced traveller.

She said both Blais and Tacchetto, 30, were in the habit of checking in with the families every couple of days.

“At first we gave her a little slack, telling ourselves ’she’s a traveller, she’s a bit bohemian,’ and it’s possible that she just didn’t give us news for a few days,” Bergeron Blais said.

“But by (Dec) 29th or 30th, we knew something wasn’t right.”

The government of Canada’s website recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to the country due to the threat of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

Blais’ family has started a Facebook page and are grateful for the help they’ve received so far, including from a Quebecer in Burkina Faso who is travelling in person to different border crossings to ask about Blais.

Global Affairs Canada said consular officials are reaching out to local authorities in Burkina Faso to follow up on reports of a missing Canadian.

Bergeron Blais, however, said she hasn’t yet been contacted by the Canadian government, and that Italian authorities appear to be working much more quickly to locate the pair.

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