April 17, 2024

Why more than 20,000 people disappeared in “The Alaska Triangle”

The dangers posed by the Bermuda Triangle are the stuff of modern-day folklore. Fewer people, however, know about the so-called Alaska Triangle, which is said to have more unsolved missing persons cases than anywhere else in the world.

The Alaska Triangle is a loosely defined area in the state between the three points of Anchorage and Juneau in the south, and Utqiagvik, a small, remote city found on the north coast.

He is estimated that over 20,000 people have disappeared in this vast area of ‚Äč‚Äčland since the early 1970s. Considering how sparsely populated the area is, that is an extremely high rate. For all of Alaska, it works out to be an average of 2,250 people disappear each year, twice the national average, and many of them appear to occur in this triangle of rugged terrain.

Some of the highest profile people that go missing in the Alaska Triangle are Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., who served as US House Majority Leader, and Nick Begich, Alaska Congressman. The two politicians disappeared on October 16, 1972, while flying in a light aircraft from Anchorage to Juneau along with Begich’s assistant, Russell Brown, and the pilot, Don Jonz.

The Alaskan Triangle is roughly between the three points of Anchorage and Juneau in the south, and Utqiagvik, a small and remote city found on the north coast.

Image credit: Google Maps, edited by IFLScience.

A massive search effort was launched to find the four missing people, but the bodies and the plane were never found. Given these mysterious circumstances, the incident has inspired several conspiracy theories. Boggs was a member of the Warren Commission, the official body set up to investigate the JFK assassination, and reportedly disagreed with many of the group’s findings.

Another notable case was Gary Frank Sotherden, a 25-year-old New Yorker who traveled to the Alaskan wilderness in the mid-1970s to hunt, but never returned home. In the summer of 1997, a hunter found a human skull along the Porcupine River in northeastern Alaska, from which DNA was obtained in 2022. State troopers later concluded that the skull belonged to Sotherden, who had probably died after being mauled by a bear.

Instead of mystical forces and explanations of other worlds, it is clear that the remote patches of Alaska are a very easy place to travel within. There are more caribou than people in Alaska. As the least populated state, only 730,000 people live in Alaska, which means that only 1/20th of 1 percent of the state is inhabited.

The rest is relatively untouched wilderness, with jagged mountain ranges, glaciers, bitterly cold weather, millions of lakes, countless crevasses, vast valleys, and lots of bears.

Some other theories suggest that the Alaskan Triangle is the site of unusual magnetic activity or a high number of exotic extraterrestrial visitors. However, simpler and more likely explanations are readily available: the chance of your getting lost in a vast empty land full of natural hazards is quite high.

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