Indian authorities have completed three expeditions to North Sentinel Island, where an American missionary was killed by a remote tribe last week during an illegal attempt to visit them, but are struggling to figure out how to safely recover the man’s body.
John Allen Chau, 26, died after visiting the protected island while trying to convert the Sentinelese tribe to Christianity.
Fishermen who had taken Chau to the island witnessed his body being buried on the beach last week.
On Saturday police said they’d mapped the area of the island where Chau’s body lies.
“It’s a difficult proposition,” said Pathak, speaking about removing Chau’s body.
The tribe are the only occupants of North Sentinel Island and remain completely disconnected from the outside world.
The Sentinelese are known for attacking anyone who tries to come to the island with spears and arrows, as happened to Chau.
“Any incursion onto their island puts the Sentinelese at serious risk of diseases to which they’ll have no immunity,” she said.
On Friday, authorities – including officials from the police, forest department, tribal welfare department, and coast guard – took a second boat trip to North Sentinel Island as part of the investigation into Chau’s death.
Seven men, including five local fishermen and two friends of Chau’s who connected him to the fishermen, have been arrested and charged over his death.
Two of the arrested men joined authorities on Friday’s trip to North Sentinel Island to help “Ascertain the route and possible circumstances of Chau’s killing,” according to a police press release.
During Friday’s trip, authorities got around 1,600 feet from the island and studied the behavior of four or five islanders for a few hours.
No attempt has yet been made to retrieve Chau’s body.
In 2006, the Sentinelese killed two local fishermen whose boat drifted onto their island, after they’d been illegally fishing nearby.
“I would hope that a similar conclusion might be reached in this case, especially given that John Allen Chau’s family have made a public statement that they forgive those responsible for his death,” added the researcher, who has spent 20 years studying the Andaman Islands.
Chau’s family has not yet responded to a request for comment.
A close friend of Chau’s, John Middleton Ramsey, told news outlets that the 26-year-old had been planning the trip to North Sentinel Island for at least two years.
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So good seeing these folks out in New Jersey at @danielpmccarthy822 and @kylamccarthy_ 's wedding. It's hard to imagine that seven years ago Danny, JD, and I were summer camp counselors at @campolympia1968, and the following year we and Griff and Brooke and other friends would all be spending a month in Cape Town, South Africa with @oru_missions. Time sure flies by but thank God for such incredible friends and wonderful memories! #friends #weddingseason #longhair #whatsworthit #livethestory #adventure #summer PC: Griffith Poindexter