08 October 2013

The Ourang Medan Explained

Who's ready for a ghost story? :) It's October, and remember, I wish to set a mood, since Halloween is imminent and it is my favorite holiday.

This "ghost" story is unverified, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was real. That being said, let's begin!

The year is 1948 (some accounts say 1952 or 1947). There is a ship, The Silver Star. It's an American US Navy ship, and it's posted in Indonesia with other ships, off the coast of Medan, an city on Sumatra, in Indonesia.

One day they, and some other ships in addition to Dutch radio outposts, receive a distress call from the ship SS Ourang Medan, an Indonesian ship (Ourang Medan means "The Man from Medan".) The distress call goes as follows:

“All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead." [morse code follows] "I die." 

Silence followed this grim message. Shades of terror. So the Silver Star intercepts the Ourang Medan over the sea and the crew gets on the Medan. Their gaze is met by dead men: the entire crew of the Medan is dead, frozen in horror, with their facial expressions contorted into fear. But the one thing they had in common was that all the crewmembers' arms stretched towards the sun.

The crew went down. All along the hold, the captain and his men lay dead, just like the rest. However, the most disturbing part was that the boiler room, which should have been over 100 degrees (think: it's a boiler room on a humid day near the Equator) was extremely cold. Many of the Star's crew shivered as they walked around the inside of the ship.

The worst was yet to come. As the Star's members attempted to investigate further, a fire broke out in the depths of the ship (nitroglycerin and other chemicals mixing with seawater have been blamed) which prevented any more investigation. As the Star sailed away the Ourang Medan sunk beneath the waves, never to be seen again.

The reason this story is so haunting is because of its uncertainty. The story first appeared in a newspaper in 1952. Many magazines since have reported the story. Yet many have tried to locate the ship's registers and records and have been unsuccessful. Lloyd's Shipping Registrar, a ship register that is fairly comprehensive and who should have had the Ourang Medan listed, does not have it. Other contemporary records during the time don't mention the ship.

Many explanations have been given for the Ourang Medan, including UFOs, methane and nitroglycerin gas, cannibals, and mass suicide. I won't go over them here, but I hope you realize and can appreciate the extent and uncertainty of this story. It's certainly disturbing. Perhaps that's why many don't believe in it. Do you?

-Rob

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