Why do ships and aircraft disappear in the Bermuda Triangle?

Has the Bermuda Triangle mystery been solved?

AzoresWHAT IS THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE? The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the Atlantic Ocean bounded by imaginary lines that run from Bermuda down to Puerto Rico, over to south-east Florida, and back up to Bermuda. (See Bermuda Triangle map below.)

Bermuda Triangle map

It is not a clearly defined area, but has become famous because many ships and aircraft have either disappeared or come to grief in this region. One side of the debate believes there are logical explanations for most of the disasters, just as there are logical explanations for the Loch Ness monster and the Shroud of Turin. The other side suggests the explanation may involve paranormal forces such as UFOs.

To include more disasters, Bermuda Triangle proponents have at times extended the region to a much larger area of the Atlantic known as the Limbo of the Lost. This area is shaped like a dented trapezium, and extends west to include the Gulf of Mexico, north to New Jersey, and north-east to the Azores. (See Limbo of the Lost map below.)

What's the mystery?

Limbo of the Lost map

Berlitz and Kusche

It depends on whose version you read whether there is a mystery or not. Legends can build up until people don't know what is true any more (such as the claim that Charles Darwin was converted on his deathbed, or that because God took a rib from Adam to create Eve, then men today have fewer ribs than women).

Until the early 1960s there was little discussion about the Bermuda Triangle and little public information. To fill this gap, two authors produced separate books in 1974 and 1975. Both are landmark references for discussion on the Bermuda Triangle, even today.


The 1974 book was titled simply The Bermuda Triangle. It was a best-seller for author Charles Berlitz, and became a film. Publishers re-released the book almost untouched in the 1990s.

In his book, Berlitz summarized many incidents in which ships and planes disappeared or struck tragedy in the Triangle. He gave many theories of what could have caused these, including natural explanations such as storms, and supernatural causes such as extraterrestrial involvement.


In the following year (1975), the other landmark book took a different line. Author Lawrence David Kusche was a reference librarian at Arizona State University in 1972 when he realized there was almost no information to give to people researching the Bermuda Triangle. He decided to examine as many disappearances and disasters in the Triangle as he could find, and made a bibliography of his sources (which was referred to, but didn't appear in, at least some of the versions of his book).

Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Solved cover

Kusche contacted shipping companies, government agencies, and libraries. He researched journals, Coast Guard reports, and newspaper stories for information about the missing vessels. The result was a well-written book titled The Bermuda Triangle Mystery — Solved.

This too was republished in the 1990s, partially to take advantage of the interest Berlitz's book was expected to re-create, and partially because there was no better material published about the Bermuda Triangle since these two books from the 1970s.

Many reasons for disasters

Kusche gave details about a large number of the disasters and disappearances, and concluded that no single theory could explain them all. He found that many of the craft were victims of natural causes, such as storms, compass failures, hurricanes, lack of radio on board, and structural weaknesses. Some were not even in the Bermuda Triangle, and others had reached “legend” status only because important details were wrong or left out.

Kusche said that with only a few exceptions, “the mishaps that remain unsolved are those for which no information can be found.”

We must point out that not everyone accepts Kusche's work. A savage article against Kusche appears at Bermuda-Triangle.org.

Explanation and confirmation

Kusche believed that the explanation for the disasters and disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle does not lie in a single theory. It lies in looking at the incidents individually. He concluded on the second-last page of his book: “It is no more logical to try to find a common cause for all the disappearances in the Triangle than, for example, to try to find one cause for all the automobile accidents in Arizona.”

The Bermuda Triangle has many storms (Hurricane Katrina formed there), and many of the disasters that supposedly happened in clear weather did not. Many disappearances and disasters did not even happen in the Bermuda Triangle. Others happened before the days of ship-to-shore radio, and the further back they happened the more difficult it is to find reliable information.

A Wikipedia article (at April 2006 and modified only slightly since) said: “The marine insurer Lloyd's of London has determined the 'triangle' to be no more dangerous than any other area of ocean, and does not charge unusual rates for passage through the region. Coast Guard records confirm their conclusion.”

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