The Will to Survive

The human will to survive is astounding. In unforeseen circumstances, beyond all chance and reason, a few resourceful individuals find ways out of some very tricky situations. One such case happened this week.

A tourist who vanished after he got separated from his son on the Tube survived on just £17 for four days in central London. The two men were transferring from the Northern line to Victoria line at Stockwell when the son entered the train and the doors closed quickly behind him, leaving the older man outside.


Vasile Belea, 63, was last seen at Stockwell underground station in south London at around 10am on Tuesday January 14th and was found in the Southall area of west London at around 10:45pm on Friday January 17th.

According to his daughter-in-law Olimpia Belea, Mr. Belea tried to approach the police twice before he gave up. Both times they turned him away thinking he was a homeless man.

On the fourth day he saw his picture in the Metro newspaper and managed to get to the Acton Police Station. When Mr. Belea showed the police that he was the man in the newspaper, they finally understood that he was the missing person.

Speaking to reporters today, Mrs. Belea said her father-in-law had survived by sleeping in shops during the day and wandering the streets and sheltering in bus stops overnight.

‘He is very resourceful,’ she added, ‘he was very sure he would find his way back home.

‘He stayed in shops where it was warm during the day and the second day he found a betting shop and they let him stay on an armchair until they closed at 10pm.

‘During the night, he walked to stay awake and he moved between bus shelters. He is an extraordinary person.’

Mr. Belea said people had assumed he was homeless and were very kind to him. He speaks little English, was not carrying any medication for his arthritis, and had an iPhone but no SIM card. He still had £3 of the original £20 note left after four days of being on his own in the city.

Vasile Belea – described by his family as ‘incredibly loving with a warm heart’ – is now reunited with his family who were panic-stricken at his disappearance.


What is next for Mr. Belea? Some people have proposed that he write a guide book on “How to Live in London for Under 5 Pounds a Day.”


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