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Tipsheet

The One Island Where You'll Definitely Die If You Set Foot on the Beach

Most people like to travel to exotic places, especially tropical islands, which make for excellent vacation spots. But, if you want to gamble with death, you’ll avert this island at all costs. For starters, it’s also patrolled by the Indian Navy, which enforces a three-to-five-mile exclusion zone around the island. It sounds like something from Jurassic Park, which does share one real-life comparison: the inhabitants will kill you. No, it’s not dinosaurs, but native peoples who have yet to experience the Bronze Age in terms of technology. It’s no exaggeration—these island people are considered “uncontacted” and are viciously protective of their island to the point where they have killed almost anyone who ventured onto its beaches. RealLifeLore had a great video explaining the history of the island and the tragic end many have met while trying to reach Paleolithic people. 

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Located in the Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island was a national news story in 2018 when a Christian missionary John Allen Chau attempted to bring the word of Christ to these people, who he considered lived on Satan’s Island. He knew the risks, and after bribing some fisherman to get him within sight of the island’s shoreline, he met his maker—literally. The Sentinelese butchered the missionary and buried Chau on the beach where it remains today as multiple efforts from local authorities to retrieve the body proved unsuccessful—the natives kept showing up in force.

In 2006, two Indian fishermen were illegally fishing in the waters around the island and got intoxicated, crashing their ship into the surrounding reefs. Witnesses from other fishing boats in the area witnessed Sentinelese men emerging from the dense jungle with weapons and butchering the two men. They later displayed their bodies like scarecrows on the beach as a warning.

In 1976, the cargo ship MV Rusley ran aground near the island, along with the MV Primrose five years later. The crew of the Primrose encountered the belligerent natives and sent an urgent distress call asking for firearms and ammunition for protection. The ship had no weapons, and the crew was waiting for another passing vessel to rescue them. RealLifeLore added that the weapons drop wasn’t necessary as American helicopter pilots working in the area could airlift the besieged crew off the ship. The YouTube account humorously added that this was probably when the Sentinelese got thrust into the Iron Age, as they later scavenged the abandoned ship. 

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There is no way to communicate with these people, as we haven’t had enough contact to decipher their language. In the 1970s, National Geographic and the Indian Government captured some exclusive footage in the documentary “Man in Search of Man,” which was cut short when one of the boats carrying the crew was later subjected to arrow fire. A bittersweet end after local anthropologists had made numerous gift drops for years to make contact. 

The irony is that this island hasn’t moved past the last Ice Age roughly, though it’s around 30 miles from the modern city of Port Blair on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These people don’t want presents from us. They want to be left alone. The Indian government has recognized that with new law establishing the quarantine zone while also acknowledging that close contact could wipe out this population since their isolation has led to them having no natural immunity against most diseases. It may look pretty from afar, but North Sentinel Island is a location of death for those who wish to visit. 

Don’t go.  

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