A 68-year old man from California has gone missing in the Southern Indian ocean while attempting to reach “the End of the World”, hoping to demonstrate that Earth is flat.
An international rescue mission has been launched this morning in order to Irvin Walters, a retired trucker and notorious member of the Flat Earth Movement.
Mr. Walters was last seen in the Australian port of Sydney on November 27, before he sailed South towards Antartica.
Being convinced that Antarctica is only a thin ice wall surrounding a disk-shaped Earth, he hoped to cross it and take pictures at the end of the disk.
Mr. Walters was reported missing by his family in California after he missed his last two radio conferences with them.
Since he left the United States in June, he would communicate every three days with his family using a satellite radio, but he hasn’t called for the last eight days.
Australian authorities have taken the American man’s disappearance very seriously and asked neighboring countries for help in finding him.
A spokesman of the Australian Coast Guard says they fear he may have gotten lost or even capsized, and could rapidly die of hypothermia.
They believe his ship has traveled at least 400 nautical miles south of Australia before it encountered problems, but they have very little information concerning his actual position.
The United States, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia have also sent ships and helicopters to help in the search and rescue mission, allocating a total of 13 ships and 7 helicopters.
Despite all the resources allocated to saving him, many experts say it would be a miracle if he was found alive.
Mr. Walters has been for many years, a militant member of the Flat Earth Movement.
In an interview with the site FlatEarth.com recorded in May, he said he had spent more than three years preparing for his trip.
He said he hoped to gather some irrefutable scientific proof that the Earth is flat, like “pictures of the disk’s end”.
He claimed to come from a family with a long naval tradition and described himself as a “7th generation sailor”, yet he admitted that he had never sailed before.
Several analysts have speculated that this lack of sailing experience could have been a serious problem in treacherous waters south of Tasmania.