Mass Disappearances, part 1

People sometimes go missing under the most mysterious and strange circumstances. One second they’re there and the next they’re not.
Search parties are formed, scanning an increasingly vaster area without luck. K9 units fail to pick up a scent to follow. The whole situation seems off, unnatural.
In the cases where a body is found, or in extremely rare cases the person is found alive, it tends to be either miles away through inhospitable, even impossible terrain, or in an area that has already been thoroughly searched.
Cases like these have been extensively studied by such researchers and authors as David Paulides and Stephen Young. Baffling, fascinating and terrifying cases that seem to defy any sort of rational explanation, making you feel like the world and your existence in it is less solid than you thought. Like you have less of a grip on how life, the world and everything functions than you thought.
It pulls the rug from under you in a way. It’s just severely unsettling.

The only thing even more unsettling are the cases of mass disappearances.
How does a whole village, the whole crew of a ship, a whole regiment just go missing in one single instant?
And what’s to stop it from happening to me or you?

Malaysia flight 370

Most recently, but perhaps to so mysteriously, we have the the missing plane Malaysia Flight 370.
It was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared on March 8, 2014 with all of its 227 passengers and 12 staff members.
The mystery is that no remains of the plane or the victims has been found, even after a whole year, despite extensive searches covering millions of square kilometers.
Why it might not be so mysterious? It disappeared over the sea. Most likely it did crash and sink to the sea floor. Only about 40% of the sea floor in the priority search zone has been scanned so far.
This is still a relatively fresh case, there is still a chance it will be resolved.

The where area Malaysia Flight 370 disappeared

Looking back a bit further we find cases that seem a bit harder to explain.
Some of them are classic cases that always are brought up when this topic is discussed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I personally think they really are that mysterious. Many sites just repeat the same stories without checking their background at all. I wanted to see if I could possibly, not really debunk, but at least offer plausible explanations to some of those.
There are mysterious things going on in this world, but not everything portrayed as mysterious really is.

First of all, the first case that tends to come up whenever you hear about mass disappearances is the first English colony in America.

Roanoke

This is one that always ends up among the top results when mass disappearances are on the table. Thus I feel compelled to at least mention the subject, even though I feel this probably isn’t too mysterious in truth.

In July of 1587 a group of 116 people were left on Roanoke Island to start a colony.
A previous attempt two years before had failed due to the colonists lack of farming experience and inability to make use of the sandy soil. To make matters worse their relationship with the local Native Carolina Algonquin tribe Aquascogoc was horrible. The English found that a silver cup had gone missing, blamed the Aquascogoc and consequently burned their village…
Retaliation happened and the relief fleet that was supposed to come didn’t arrive in time so when when the colonists were offered a ride home with Sir Francis Drake, who was in the neighborhood, they jumped at the opportunity.
The relief fleet arrived shortly thereafter, naturally, and finding the colony abandoned, they left, after leaving behind a small group to protect the claim to the land until the new colonists would arrive.

The new colony was then established in 1587, but upon their arrival at Roanoke Island they found nothing but a skeleton. Naturally spooked the colonist wanted to return to the ships and go back to England, but were kept from doing so by an evil, imperialistic asshole, ehrm, I mean by the fleet’s commander Simon Fernandez.
Relations with the Croatoans and other local tribes were re-established, except of course with the ones whose village they had burned as they refused to meet with them. Understandably.

Shortly thereafter, one of the colonists was killed while looking for crabs by himself. The colonists begged Governor White to return to England and get help. He did in late 1587 and left the 116 colonists to fend for themselves.

The return trip was delayed by several factors and the Governor didn’t return until August 18, 1590. Upon his arrival he found the settlement deserted.
There was no sign of any of the colonist, nor of any kind of struggle.
All the buildings had been dismantled, indicating that vacating the village had taken place in an organized manner.
The only clues left behind were the letters CRO carved into a tree and the word CROATOAN carved into a post. Also, no Maltese Cross was found carved into anything, which was the agreed upon sign to use if they had been driven away by force.
Governor White came to the very logical conclusion that the colony, fearing attacks by the natives they had alienated, had moved to the Croatoan Island. He was unable to investigate due to bad weather and had to return to England.
Circumstances prevented new expeditions to the area and eventually the project was abandoned and the colony simply referred to as The Lost Colony.

In modern time a Lost Colony DNA Project is trying to piece together where the Roanoke colonists might have ended up. If you suspect that you could be a descendant from one of the colonists you should sign up here.

My thoughts: I agree with Governor White. I think the colonists fled the island preemptively, fearing an attack by the tribe they whose village they had burned. They most likely went to the Croatoan Island, as indicated by their carving that word and a part of it on the tree and post and by not including that previously agreed upon Maltese Cross. I believe they eventually became integrated with the local tribes.

Mary Celeste

Another mandatory mention in this context, but one I will dwell on even less.
Mary Celeste was an American ship, a brigantine, transporting denatured alcohol, which was discovered drifting off the coast of the Azores on December 4, 1872. She was found by the crew of Dei Gratia and was described as disheveled but seaworthy.
The mystery is that all her crew was missing, including the captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs and his wife and daughter.

Captain Briggs

No trace of any of the crew members has ever been found and the reason they abandoned ship remains unknown.
The last log entry was ten day before the ship was discovered.
The ship’s cargo of alcohol was untouched, as were the personal possessions of the crew, except for the ship’s papers and the Captain’s navigational instruments, which were missing. The cabin’s interior was wet and untidy.
The life boat was missing. The binnacle, a waist-high case or stand on the deck, containing the compass, had shifted and its glass had been broken.

My thoughts: The ship encountered a storm, rough waves crashed over the deck, flowed into the cabin. The Captain, not only responsible for his crew but also for his own family made a possibly too hasty decision to abandon ship by means of the life boat. He brought his navigational gear in the hopes of steering towards the nearest shore, and the ship’s papers to provide proof of his story and identity.
Either they all then perished in the high seas or found uninhabited land where they were sadly never found.

Kaz II

Kaz II

In 2007, on April 18th, the catamaran Kaz II was found drifting 160 km off the Northern coast of Australia. The vessel appeared in serviceable condition and everything on board was as if the crew of three men were still there. But they weren’t.
Food and flatware were set out on the table, a laptop computer was set up and turned on and the engine was running. The radio and GPS were fully functioning, all the life vests were still on board.
The only sign that anything was awry, apart from the missing crew, was that one of the boat’s sails had been badly shredded.
The anchor was up, the fenders were out.
Fenders are usually put out when another boat comes up beside you or when in port.
Did Kaz II have company before the crew disappeared? Not necessarily. Smaller boats sometimes keep their fenders out at all times.
There was no life boat found, although there are doubts as to whether the vessel carried one at all.

Investigators recovered a video recording on the boat, showing the men during their trip. It shows that the days before the disappearance but nothing really spectacular. The fenders are out though.
A long white rope is trailing behind the boat in the video but when the boat is recovered it’s found to have been pulled up and thrown on the foredeck.

My thoughts: This one is impossible to determine. Anything could have happened, but there would never be any way to definitively prove it.
Yes, the men could have drowned. Their fishing lure was apparently tangled in the ship’s port side rudder. It would be perfectly plausible that one of the men,  trying to free the lure fell overboard. This could explain why Mr. J. Tunstead had taken off his T-shirt and glasses and left them on the backseat, where they were later found.
But how then, not one, but both of the other men also came to fall in I’m not sure. These were experienced seamen, not prone to making stupid mistakes, but of course anything can happen.
If they were thrown overboard because of bad weather and rough seas then why was there no mess aboard the ship? Even a half empty coffee cup was still standing.

What cause the sail to get ripped? That’s very hard for me to say as my experience with boats of any kind is limited to canoes…
Some of the more outlandish theories proposed talk of some kind of gigantic shark or other sea monster.
I’d actually be more inclined to say bird monster judging by the ripped sail…
I can’t really say anything for certain regarding this case. Most likely the men perished in the sea after having fallen overboard for an unknown reason, even though at the same time that seems unlikely.
So the likeliest explanation is also the unlikely one…
This is what makes a mystery.

Mass disappearances part 2

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