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ARCTIC EXPLORERS' FATE.
Experts Not Inclined to Be Pessimistic.
Reuter's Agency learns that in geographical quarters the feeling with regard to the safety of the Anglo-American Arctic expedition is not one of pessimism. The loss of the ship the Duchess of Bedford is, of course, serious, but this does not necesarily mean that the members of the expedition have perished. Telegrams received from Captain Mikkelsen's relations in Copenhagen show that no undue anxiety is felt by them, and regarding the return of the dog team it is pointed out that the animals were probably set loose by the explorers or sledging party with a view to returning to headquarters with messages.
The point where the ship was lost, near Fort Anxious, is difficult to locate, as it is not shown on the Admiralty charts, but it is known that the vessel was at winter quarters at Flaxman Island, and the probability is that she was making her way to the eastward in the direction of the mouth of the Mackenzie river. The Flaxman Island, the headquarters of the expedition, is on the Alaskan coast, roughly about 150 miles west of Herschel Island.
The last news received of the expedition by the Royal Geographical Society was contained in a private letter from Captain Mikkelsen to Sir Clements Markham, which was received in July. This was written in November last, and with the postscript brought the news of the expedition up to December of last year. The explorer then stated that he was planning a sledge journey over the ice last spring and that he hoped to make an extended journey over the ice this year. A few weeks previously letters received from Captain Mikkelsen went fully into the ice conditions and gave details of his plans. These letters came from Flaxman Island.
Mr. A. H. Harrison, an English explorer, is now working at the mouth of the Mackenzie river, where he has been exploring since 1905 with practically the same objects as Captain Mikkelsen. Mr. Harrison succeeded in getting to Banks Land, where he intended to spend the winter but was prevented from doing so. It is not improbable that news of the Mikkelsen party may be received from Mr. Harrison, from whom frequent communications are received.
Captain Mikkelsen had no intention at the time of starting to attempt to do more with the Duchess of Bedford than to convey provisions to Banks Land, where he intended to establish a depot. His plans were to explore the Beaufort Sea to the North-west of Parry Island, in the belief that the chain of islands already discovered in the Beaufort Sea extended across that sea towards the Pole. Starting from Seattle he intended to pass through the Behring (sic) Sea, and establishing his depot on Banks Land to make a dash from there by sledges to his objective at the most favourable time which offered. The ice difficulties in that region are tremendous and Mikkelsen would be likely to leave his ship behind.
Much more serious, however, is the news that the dog team had returned with empty sledges. It is evident that the party would never have let the dogs get away if they were in a position to prevent it. It is still possible, however, that it was the result of a comparatively trifling accident and the party might yet be safe.
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