Missing Romanian tourist survived on £17 and kindness of strangers, reveal reunited Hackbridge family

Sutton Guardian: Vasile Belea with his children Ciprian and Alina Vasile Belea with his children Ciprian and Alina

A Romanian tourist missing who went missing for three days while visiting Sutton survived on just £20 - and still had change left after the ordeal, his family have revealed.

Vasile Belea, 63, walked the streets of the London for 84 hours before being found in Ealing on Friday night.

He walked into a police station in Acton, more than eight miles away from Stockwell Underground station, where he was separated from his son Ciprian, of Hackbridge, on Tuesday morning.

He had spent three nights and four days walking the streets of the capital, sheltering in shops during the daytime.

He twice approached police officers but they could understand him as he does not speak English.

Mr Belea's daughter-in-law Olimpia Belea today told of the family's joy at being reunited with the father-of-two they feared could be dead.

She said: "The words are joy and gratitude for everyone who helped and support us - police, media and everyone else. 

"People say to us it must have been horrible. And truly it was. But equally was a huge blessing, our souls were all united in prayer in a way that the happiest moments can't do. Not that I want to go through this again, though."

Mrs Belea said her father-in-law, of Maramures, had stayed calm throughout the ordeal despite his family's rising panic. 

She said: "He described himself as being overconfident that he will find the way to our house or his daughter's house.

"He walked tens of miles, hoping that at the next corner he will find himself in a familiar place. He bought milk and sandwiches, being very careful with his money.

"His coping strategy was simple: it was important not to be cold and not to get wet. Therefore he stayed inside shops during the day.

"During the night he walked continuously so not to fall asleep, not to feel cold and not to get stiff with his arthritis. He stayed at the betting shop till 10am the second evening and at an Indian restaurant the third evening.

"Not even once he despaired or panicked, such a man he is."

Mr Belea had just a £20 note on him when he went missing, but returned with £3 still remaining. 

He also benefited from the kindness of strangers, including an Indian restaurant which made him sandwiches, while working on a farm in his homeland made him well-equipped for walking long distances.

His daughter-in-law said: "He was so thrifty with his resources that he didn't eat all five sandwiches he was given and came to us with two of them that we ate together last night.

"Everyone very kind to him. He loves London and highly appreciates its people. Not even one bad thing happened to him. And so many things could have happened to him.

"He says that not even once he frowned so not to scare anyone. He was joyful to see children and elderly people.

"He didn't enter the tube as he didn't have money on his Oystercard and he didn't want to do something wrong and be fined and maybe not to be allowed to return to England, to us."

Mr Belea was reunited with his son and daughter Alina after approaching a stranger reading a newspaper that featured his picture, who then contacted the police.

He had been to church to celebrate his birthday the day he went missing.

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