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Mysteries

165 People Have Gone Missing from Cruise Ships Since 1995

Pushed, suicide, hit jobs or something more of a paranormal nature?

via Daily Mail:

Rebecca Coriam disappeared from a cruise ship in March 2011

On the evening of April 6 this year, John Halford packed his suitcase and left it outside the door of his cabin on the cruise liner Thomson Spirit. It was the last day of a week-long Egyptian cruise and the ship was due to dock at Sharm-el-Sheikh the following morning.

Mr Halford, 63, texted his wife Ruth, who was at home in Britain, to say he would see her at the airport the next day, then went off to dinner. At about 12.30 am, he was seen by other passengers drinking cocktails in an upper-deck bar. He then vanished.

Mrs Halford, who has three children, Lucy, 20, Sophie, 18, and Connor, 17, learned of her husband’s disappearance as she was getting ready to drive to the airport to collect him.

‘The phone rang, it was the Thomson’s desk at the airport in Egypt,’ she said. ‘I was told the plane was in the air but my husband was not on it. He’d gone missing from the ship. You could have knocked me over sideways. It made no sense. The children and I were shell-shocked.

‘At first I thought he must have somehow gone ashore without anyone realising, but it would have been impossible because there are various checkpoints when you disembark. He’d simply disappeared.’

Today, more than five months on, Mr Halford, a bookseller from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, remains missing, his fate unknown.

His case is far from unique. Over the past few years, there have been an alarming number of unexplained and unsolved disappearances on board cruise liners.

According to the U.S.-based International Cruise Victims Association, 165 people have gone missing at sea since 1995, with at least 13 this year alone – many of them from vessels popular with British holidaymakers.

Cruise ship holidays are enormously popular. According to the Passenger Shipping Association, 1.7 million cruises will be taken in Britain this year (many will be repeat cruises by the same holidaymakers). But what is happening to all these passengers who simply vanish while at sea, never to be seen again?

Are they the victims of a sinister crime wave? Have they had a mishap at sea and fallen overboard, or perhaps chosen to take their own lives?

The sad fact is that, in many cases, no one knows. And for the family and friends they left behind, that only compounds the heartache. Loved ones such as Ruth Halford and her children, who remain in limbo; bereft, baffled and unable to grieve.

‘John had been really looking forward to the cruise,’ says Mrs Halford.

‘He’d once worked in Libya and was intrigued by North Africa. He was fascinated by ancient Egyptian culture and wanted to see the pyramids.

‘He went alone because we couldn’t afford to go as a family, plus the children had exams coming up. Ships are places where it’s easy to meet people, and John didn’t mind going on his own. The passengers who saw him in the bar say he was not drunk and was in good spirits.

‘He’d packed his suitcase ready to go but his other belongings – his passport, glasses, mobile phone and rucksack – were found in his cabin. But there was no sign of John.

‘John wasn’t depressed – there was no sign at all that he was contemplating suicide. He just wasn’t like that.

‘His suitcase was later returned to us and in it were three necklaces for me, Lucy and Sophie with our names written in hieroglyphics and a similar name bracelet. John was planning on coming home to us.’

At first, Mrs Halford, 46, believed that her husband, with whom she was about to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, would turn up. But, as time has passed, her hope has nearly all gone.

‘It has been incredibly difficult, surreal really, and terrible for the children,’ she says. ‘In my heart I believe he is dead, that he is gone, that he somehow slipped and went overboard. I can’t think of any other explanation.

‘A search of the sea was carried out at the time, but nothing was found. I am told there are sharks in the area: it is very painful to think about.’

But is the idea of someone ‘slipping overboard’ credible? The rails on cruise ships are at least 3ft 6in high, which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone – even someone who might be drunk or ill – to pitch overboard.

With no clues as to where or how her husband vanished, Mrs Halford is struggling to rebuild her life. After taking time off work after John went missing, she has now had to return to her job as a medical secretary to pay the bills and support the children.

‘Life goes on,’ she says. ‘I need money to pay the bills and we’ve lost John’s salary. John took out travel insurance and I’ve been on to the company to try to make a claim but they simply say: “What are you claiming for?”

‘Thomson haven’t given me any support, either. John was in their care, but I haven’t had so much as a letter from them. I can’t get a widow’s pension because we don’t know if John is dead.

‘We’re living a nightmare and we can’t see a way out of it. It is so unreal that we can’t grieve. We are in limbo. What do we do? Should we hold a funeral? But how can we if we’re not sure he’s dead?’

The parents of 24-year-old Rebecca Coriam, who went missing from a Disney cruise liner in March this year, can empathise with the tumult of emotion Mrs Halford is experiencing.

Last Monday, Mike and Ann Coriam met MP Mike Penning, the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, who has responsibility for maritime issues, to discuss a change in the law that would allow UK authorities to investigate cases of British nationals who go missing on vessels while abroad.

At the moment, investigations are handled from where the ship is registered.

Miss Coriam, from Chester, vanished as the Disney Wonder was on passage from Mexico to Los Angeles. A single policeman in the Bahamas, where the ship is registered, is investigating her disappearance.

Miss Coriam was working on the ship as a youth activities coordinator. She was last seen by a work colleague at around 5.45 am on March 22 by a male colleague and appeared upset, but when he asked her if she was all right, she said she was fine and on her way to bed.

CCTV footage on the ship shows Rebecca walking into shot with her hands in her back pockets, as was her habit. After that, there were no further sightings of her. Her credit card is missing, but has not been used.

John Jennings, Rebecca’s uncle, says: ‘Personally, I feel that someone has done something bad to Becky. The police officer who came aboard the ship to investigate concluded soon after she went missing that at that time there was no sign of foul play, but I don’t share that view.

‘The implication was that Becky had committed suicide, but there is no indication at all that she was depressed. Yes, she’d had some sort of argument, but it could have been over something quite petty.

‘Rebecca had bought four tickets for Disneyland Paris as a surprise so that she could go there with her mum and dad and sister Rachael when she got back.

‘That’s not the action of someone contemplating suicide. We have discovered recently that someone has changed the password on Becky’s Facebook account, so we can’t get into it. It must be someone who knows her, who knows what the original password was.’

Her disappearance echoes another mysterious case that has been barely reported in this country – that of a 62-year-old German, identified only as Sabine L, who vanished from Cunard’s prestige liner, the QE2, in 2007, as it sailed off Madeira.

Sabine and her husband Ludwig boarded the ship at Southampton on December 17, 2006, for a two-week cruise to the Canaries and Madeira.

One night, the pair went to bed at about midnight in room 5167. The next morning, when Ludwig awoke, his wife was not in the cabin. She was never seen again.

Had something sinister befallen her; or could she be among those who are suspected of having taken their own life while on a cruise ship?

Just this week, there was precisely one such incident. Passengers lined the decks as the Balmoral made its way up Southampton Water on Tuesday morning following an eight-day tour of Norway’s fjords.

The passengers were preparing to disembark when the announcement was made. A passenger was missing. No one was permitted to leave the ship until the police, who were waiting at the quay, had completed an onboard investigation.

Francis Hemsley, 89, of Walton- on-Thames, Surrey, had last been seen at dinner at 9pm on Sunday. Some time between then and the next morning, as the ship headed south along Britain’s east coast, he’d vanished.

A subsequent police investigation established that in this instance there was a note left in Mr Hemsley’s cabin. Although they will not reveal what it said, Mr Hemsley appears to have decided that he wished to die, and wanted to spend his final days amid the serenity of the Norwegian fjords.

No body has yet been found, and officially the investigation is ongoing, but according to Hampshire police, who are investigating his disappearance, ‘initial inquiries indicate the man fell overboard and that it was a non-suspicious death’.

His disappearance echoes that of another elderly Briton who vanished from the same Fred Oslen ship, the Balmoral, last October.

The 79-year-old unnamed man had been on a three-week cruise in the Adriatic with his wife. She woke in the early hours when the ship was about 45 miles south of the Lizard in Cornwall and saw that her husband was missing.

He had last been seen onboard at about midnight.

After she alerted the crew, and a search of the 43,000-tonne vessel had established he was not on board, an air-and-sea search involving British and French coastguards and two warships in the area was launched.

Nearly one year on, there is no body and no answer to the question the family keep asking themselves: what happened?

Two eerily similar disappearances, then, on the same ship.

Certainly, the fate of a 50-year-old woman who was a passenger on board the Sea Princess as it cruised the Caribbean last December, between Curacao and Grand Turk islands, gives credence to the ‘suicide at sea’ theory.

CCTV footage shows the unnamed woman, who was on holiday with her husband, climbing over her cabin balcony in the early hours and falling into the sea.

Her body has not been found, but at least the woman’s family know that she chose to take her life and that she is gone.

For John Halford and Rebecca Coriam’s families, however, and scores of other people around the world, there is no such resolution.

Thomson Cruises, the company Mr Halford went on holiday with, says it has been assisting Thames Valley police and the Foreign Office in Egypt with their inquiries, and acknowledges that it may not have given Mrs Halford as much support as it could have done.

‘We are sorry to hear Mrs Halford feels she has not had our support and we would like to apologise,’ says a spokesperson. ‘This is a very rare occurrence and we have learnt lessons from it.’

But Mr Halford remains missing, as does Rebecca Coriam and countless others.

Most of these people disappeared on black nights, far out at sea.

Precisely what happened to them all are mysteries that look unlikely ever to be solved.

Natalie Clark
Daily Mail

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Mysteries

Water on the Moon: NASA cannot understand where it came from in temperate latitudes and what keeps it there

It is unknown where the frozen puddles appeared for the first time in the temperate latitudes of our natural satellite.

Water on the moon – in the form of ice, of course, was first found 10 years ago. Found in deep, dark and cold craters located at the poles. They were also delighted with this, deciding that in other – warmer and sunlit places – there could be no water. It would have disappeared long ago, even if it had come from somewhere.

However, either the scientists were mistaken, or they misunderstood something then, but the “new” water on the Moon was found exactly where it was not expected at all. The stratospheric observatory SOFIA (NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) found characteristic traces of “real” water not bound in minerals. 

Her telescope, equipped with an infrared camera (Faint Object infraRed CAmera), is installed on board a Boeing 747SP aircraft. Flying at an altitude of 15 kilometers, he observes our natural satellite – catches radiation – as part of a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

Water on the surface of the Moon - in its temperate latitudes - was discovered by NASA's flying observatory.

Water on the surface of the Moon – in its temperate latitudes – was discovered by NASA’s flying observatory.

Water, as shown by recent observations, “splashed” the crater Clavius ​​(Clavius ​​Crater), located in the southern hemisphere of the moon on its visible side. The water in it is distributed over areas of about 40 thousand square kilometers. It is about 412 ppm. Not much – in the Sahara Desert about 100 times more. But there is water on the moon. The researchers reported this on the US Space Agency website and in the journal Nature Astronomy.

How the water ended up in temperate latitudes, scientists do not yet know.

Water comes from somewhere and something keeps it there, – Casey Honniball, who led the research from NASA, is perplexed. But he suspects that water can be distributed over the entire surface of the moon, and not just in its individual nooks and crannies.

The search for lunar water will continue – in other places. In parallel, scientists will try to more accurately estimate its reserves.

Up to the waist, and somewhere up to the neck

The fact that the moon is by no means dry became known many years ago. Analyzes of the lunar soil, which were brought to Earth by Soviet automatic stations and American astronauts, demonstrated that water in a bound form is part of local minerals. It’s there – from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million. Not so little.

Scientists who have conducted a second analysis not so long ago, testify: if you “squeeze out” all the water trapped inside the rocks of the moon, and pour it over the surface, a layer 1 meter thick is formed. Almost up to the waist.

Scientists were experimentally convinced of the fact that there is not bound, but real – frozen – water on the Moon in 2009 by sending a stage of the Centaurus rocket, previously docked with the LCROSS probe and the probe itself to the Cabeus crater . The analysis of the exploding cloud of the explosion made it possible to find the cherished H2O molecules.In 2009, vapor from lunar water kicked up an explosion from a rocket stage hitting a crater.

In 2009, vapor from lunar water kicked up an explosion from a rocket stage hitting a crater.

In the same 2009, NASA specialists processed the data obtained using the radars of the Chandrayaan-1 probe of the Indian Space Research Organization. And they understood: there is more real water, hidden, however, under a layer of soil, on the Moon than one could imagine. Much more. In a relatively small area near the North Pole of our natural satellite, they found as many as 40 craters filled with ice. The crater diameters range from 2 to 15 kilometers. They contain at least 600 million tons of water. It’s almost a cubic kilometer – a huge lake in total. Deep in places.

In 2018, Chandrayan-1 came in handy again. Thanks to a device called the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (MMM), installed on board, astronomers from the University of Hawaii and Brown University, along with colleagues from NASA (Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley), saw for the first time naked lunar ice – a kind of “skating rinks”, filled in the polar and subpolar regions. Where there is always a terrible frost.The location of frozen bodies of water at the South (left) and North Poles of the Moon.

The location of frozen bodies of water at the South (left) and North Poles of the Moon.

And here is a new discovery: water on the entire lunar surface. It inspires optimism for future conquerors of extraterrestrial spaces – there is no need to import water from Earth. Its own, obtained right on the moon, is enough to get drunk, and wash, and produce rocket fuel.

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Mysteries

Murder Mysterious: What Happened at the Hinterkaife Farm?

This story, which took place on April 4, 1922, on the Hinterkaifike farm, located between Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen in Bavaria, still excites the minds of lawyers and journalists. Then they found the bodies of the owner of the farm and his wife, their daughter and her two children, a maid who had recently come to them to work …

Everyone in the village knew about the Gruber. They were a wealthy family, but with a bad reputation. The father of the family, Andreas Gruber, was a cruel and rude man, so the workers on the farm did not stay long. Although everyone wanted money, few were willing to endure Andreas’ harsh temper. Cecilia Gruber, his wife, used to be the owner of Hinterkaifeke – she inherited the farm from her husband. From him, she left two children, Martin and Cecilia. Soon the couple had a daughter, Victoria. She was not the only child, but the only one survived to adulthood – the rest of the children died in the absence of proper care. 

Victoria grew up with Cecilia the younger as a sister. She was a quiet girl who sang in the church choir. Andreas did not deny himself the pleasure of making fun of both girls, and when Victoria turned 16, he forced her to enter into a relationship with him. Nobody knew about this, because the family lived as hermits, and the locals preferred not to pry into other people’s affairs. 

Cecilia the younger got married and left. At the age of 27, Victoria also found herself a husband, Karl Gabriel. According to rumors, he married solely for the sake of a share of the land, but upon learning of the incestuous relationship between his wife and father-in-law, he dropped everything and went to the front. A month later, Victoria gave birth to a daughter, Cecilia. 

In the end, Victoria broke down and told about incest in confession. Gruber was sentenced to a year of hard labor, and she herself was imprisoned for a month. However, when Andreas returned, everything was resumed. Once their neighbor Lorenz Schlittenbauer wooed Victoria – his wife died then, he had sex with Victoria several times in the barn and must have decided that his farm still needs a mistress, besides, he is a respected non-poor man. But Andreas refused to marry his daughter, claiming that he “fondled her himself.” When it turned out that Victoria was pregnant, she persuaded Lorenz to recognize the child as her own, but she never got married, and Gruber was named his guardian. So Lorenz was forced to pay child support until the child came of age, not even being sure that he was from him.

The baby was named Joseph. Unfortunately, he was unwell, grew poorly and was often ill. For the villagers, this served as a signal that Joseph was born as a result of an unnatural relationship between Victoria and her father.

Footprints and ghosts

Shortly before the murder, Victoria was seized with anxiety. She repeated that she felt that the farm was being watched. She saw the silhouette of a man, but could not find out who it was. Andreas also noticed oddities: footprints in the snow around the house, rustling in the attic (and when he got up, no one was there), flashing torches … Once he found a Munich newspaper that no one in the family subscribed to. He also lost his keys.

On March 31, a couple of days before the murder, the maid Maria arrived at the farm. The previous one asked for a calculation when she began to suspect that a ghost was in charge of the house.

Murder

For several days, nothing was heard about the Gruber, but life was in full swing on the farm: smoke poured from the chimney, sounds were heard, someone walked … But after several people with whom Andreas had appointments, they could not getting inside, their neighbor Lorenz became worried and called the police. 

The bodies of all six were found in a house that was in perfect order. Little Joseph was killed in his cradle, Maria – in her bed, the rest were piled up in a heap by the barn and obviously not the first day dead. All residents of the farm were killed in one way – hitting the head with a hoe. At the same time, nothing of the valuable things and money, which was abundant on the farm, was not lost. Cynologists with dogs were able to take the trail of the criminal, but lost him at the edge of the forest.

The police interviewed about a hundred suspects, chief among whom was a neighbor of the Lorenz farm, whom Victoria had deceived and, perhaps, her ex-husband, who allegedly died at the front, could in fact be alive. In 2007, the students of the police academy, as a practice, re-investigated the case, found a new suspect, but out of respect for their relatives, they did not disclose their name.

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Mysteries

A dead star in our galaxy has sent a new radio signal

Magnetar SGR 1935 + 2154, which emitted the first known rapid radio burst from inside the Milky Way in April, flared again, giving astronomers another chance to unravel the cosmic mystery.

The little dead star that sent the signal earlier this year did it again.

On October 8, 2020, the CHIME / FRB collaboration discovered SGR 1935 + 2154 emitting three millisecond radio bursts in three seconds. Following the CHIME / FRB detection, the FAST radio telescope detected something else – pulsed radio emission corresponding to the rotation period of the magnetar.

It is very interesting to see SGR 1935 + 2154 again, and I am optimistic that if we study these bursts more closely, it will help us better understand the potential relationship between magnetars and fast radio bursts, “says astronomer Deborah Goode of the University of Britain Colombia in Canada and a member of CHIME / FRB.

Until April of this year, fast radio bursts (FRBs) were ever recorded only from outside the galaxy, usually from sources millions of light years away. The first was discovered in 2007, and since then astronomers have been trying to figure out what causes them.

As the name suggests, FRBs are bursts of extremely powerful radio waves found in the sky, some of which release more energy than hundreds of millions of suns. They only last a millisecond.

Since most sources of fast radio bursts seem to flare up once and no repetition is detected, they are highly unpredictable. In addition, the ones we detect usually come so far that our telescopes cannot distinguish individual stars. Both of these characteristics make it difficult to track the FRB to either the exact source galaxy or a known cause.

But SGR 1935 + 2154 is only 30,000 light-years away. On April 28, 2020, it spat out a massive millisecond pulse that has since been dubbed FRB 200428 under the fast radio transmission naming convention.

Once the signal strength was adjusted for distance, FRB 200428 was not as powerful as the extragalactic fast radio bursts, but everything else was in line with the profile.

“If the same signal came from a nearby galaxy, such as one of the closest typical FRB galaxies, it would look like an FRB to us,” said astronomer Srinivas Kulkarni of the California Institute of Technology. “We’ve never seen anything like it before.”

We don’t know much about the three new bursts yet. Since scientists are still working on the data, it is possible that some of the early findings could change, Goode said. But now we can say that they are both similar and not similar to FRB 200428.

They are a little less powerful again, but they are all still incredibly strong, and they all lasted only milliseconds.

“Although less bright than those detected earlier this year, they are still very bright flares that we would see if they were extragalactic,” Goode added.

“One of the more interesting aspects of this discovery is that our three bursts appear to have occurred during the same rotation period. The magnetar is known to rotate every ~ 3.24 seconds, but our first and second bursts were separated by 0.954 seconds, and the second and third were separated by 1.949 seconds. This is a bit unusual, and I think we will look at it later. “

This could reveal something new and useful about the behavior of magnetars, because – let’s face it – they’re pretty weird.

Magnetars, of which only 24 have been confirmed to date, are neutron stars; it is the collapsed core of a dead star, not massive enough to turn into a black hole. Neutron stars are small and dense, about 20 kilometers in diameter, with a maximum mass of about two Suns. But magnetars add something else to this: a stunningly powerful magnetic field.

These stunning fields are about a quadrillion times more powerful than Earth’s magnetic field and a thousand times more powerful than a normal neutron star. And we still do not fully understand how they came to this.

But we know that magnetars have periods of activity. As gravity tries to hold the star together – an internal force – the magnetic field pulling outward is so powerful that it distorts the star’s shape. This results in a constant voltage that sometimes causes giant starquakes and giant magnetic flares. SGR 1935 + 2154 is undergoing such activity, which suggests a link between magnetar attacks and at least some FRBs.

Obviously, astronomers have found that the source of the first intragalactic FRBs is of great interest. When CHIME / FRB reported their discovery, other astronomers decided to look at the star, including a team led by Zhu Weiwei of the National Astronomical Observatory of China, which had access to FAST, the largest single-aperture radio telescope in the world.

And they discovered something interesting, which was also reported on the astronomer’s Telegram – pulsed radio emission. These radio pulses were nowhere near as strong as the bursts, but they are extremely rare: if confirmed, SGR 1935 + 2154 will only be the sixth pulsed radio frequency magnetar. And the pulse period turned out to be equal to 3.24781 seconds – almost exactly the rotation period of the star.

This is curious, because until now astronomers have not been able to find a connection between magnetars and radio pulsars. Pulsars are another type of neutron star; they have a more normal magnetic field, but they pulsate with radio waves as they spin, and astronomers have long tried to figure out how the two types of stars are related.

Earlier this year, Australian astronomers identified a magnetar that behaved like a radio pulsar – a possible “missing link” between the two and evidence that at least some magnetars could evolve into pulsars. SGR 1935 + 2154 might be another piece of the puzzle.

“Based on these results and the increasing burst activity, we hypothesize that the magnetar may be in the process of transforming into an active radio pulsar,” Weiwei’s team wrote.

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