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Unexplained mysteries of the world

31 October 2018

There is something equally compelling and terrifying about the unknown. From unsolved tragedies to creepy myths and legends from bygone centuries, curiosity about the strange and mysterious seems to be an ingrained facet of human nature. Whether you believe that spooky occurrences have a rational, scientific explanation, or think that they are the result of something a little more ominous, join us as we delve into the world of the weird and unnerving this Halloween. Here are two of the most bewildering unexplained mysteries from around the world…

The Dyatlov Pass Incident, Russia

In January of 1959, a group of Soviet Russian students and graduates from the Ural State Technical University headed into the northern Ural Mountains for a hiking expedition. What followed bears all the marks of a sinister horror movie. A week after the group's leader, Igor Alekseyevich Dyatlov failed to send the requisite telegraph signalling their safe return, relatives of the hikers demanded a rescue operation. While the group were experienced hikers, traversing the snowy, mountainous wilderness was not an easy task - their route was difficult, and accidents were sadly not uncommon. However, what was uncovered in the following search does little to answer any questions about what happened to the group in the mountains, and the incident is still shrouded in mystery.

The scene discovered by the search party was both chilling and confounding. When arriving at the spot where the hiker's had set up camp, investigators discovered the group's tent, abandoned and destroyed. Bizarrely, the tent had been ripped open from the inside, and the group's warm clothing, rations, hiking equipment and even shoes had been left behind. Numerous sets of footprints in the snow revealed that the group had fled from their camp in apparent terror and haste - some in bare feet, others in socks, and some wearing just a single shoe. The footsteps led to a wooded area around a mile away, where the first two bodies were discovered under a large cedar tree, shoeless and dressed only in underwear. Three more bodies were discovered nearby, in positions suggesting they were attempting to return to the camp. All had succumbed to hypothermia. The remaining four bodies were found two months later, in a snowy ravine deep in the woods. They had suffered fatal injuries, including chest fractures caused by an impact comparable to that of a car crash.

To this day, nobody knows what caused the group to flee from their camp. Theories range from an avalanche to military tests and even an attack from a Russian Yeti. A modern scientific theory reasons that the group were victims of infrasound; a principle used to explain many spooky occurrences. The theory suggests that wind travelling through the mountains created what is known as a Kármán vortex street, which can produce low-frequency sound and airborne vibrations that induce anxiety and panic within humans. None of these theories has ever been proven - officially, the cause of the deaths was attributed to "a compelling natural force", and the Dyatlov Pass Incident is one of the most famous unexplained mysteries in the world today.

The Oak Island Mystery, Canada

The story of the Oak Island Money Pit is a little more light-hearted, though no less fascinating. Oak Island is a 140-acre island in Lunenburg County, on the south shores of Nova Scotia. A verdant, tree-covered oasis, the unassuming island has spent over 200 years at the centre of enduring rumours and theories that a trove of buried treasure is hidden there. What the treasure is, exactly, has yet to be agreed upon, and theories range from Marie Antoinette's lost jewels to Shakespearean manuscripts or religious artefacts. Despite this, and the fact that to date, no treasure of note has been found, explorers and treasure hunters from around the world seem to be in agreement that it is worth getting their hands on, and there have been a number of attempts over the years to find the reputed riches.

Although the origins of the treasure hunt are unclear, the most widely-believed story claims it began in the 18th century, when a dying sailor from the crew of Captain Kidd told settlers that treasure amounting to £2 million had been buried on the island. After a depression in the ground was discovered by a man named Daniel McGinnis, he and several local men began to dig. They discovered a layer of flagstones a couple of feet underground, followed by unexplained oak platforms every 10 feet before their superstition got the better of them and the search was abandoned. The excavation was restarted in the early 1800s by a group known as the Onslow Company, who found a large, mysterious stone inscribed with cryptic symbols at around 90 feet, which purportedly claimed that "forty feet below, two million pounds lie buried". Soon after, the pit was flooded and again, the hunt was abandoned.

Over the years, a number of treasure hunters have continued with the excavation. A separate shaft was dug in order to evade the repeated flooding - speculated to be the result of a booby trap made in order to protect the hidden treasure, a theory seemingly confirmed by the discovery that the nearby beach is artificial and features five underwater drains leading to the pit. In the 1960s, a camera lowered into the pit revealed three possible treasure chests, as well as tools and human remains. The shaft collapsed before the apparent treasures could be recovered, and divers searching the re-dug shaft as recently as 2016 have been unable to retrieve these artefacts.

Quite possibly the longest running treasure hunt in the world, Oak Island's elusive money pit has seen hundreds of years of excavation, countless failed investments and a number of accidental deaths. The mystery is even the subject of a History Channel television series, "The Curse of Oak Island", which documents the current efforts to reach the bottom of the pit, the history of the island, and the plethora of theories surrounding nature of the treasure - which, if it indeed exists at all, remains an intriguing, unsolved mystery to this day.