By Daily Mail Reporter05:50 11 Mar 2014, updated 12:05 29 Oct 2008
The disappearance of a Taiwanese fighter jet during a routine training mission over Taiwan's Penghu Islands has prompted speculation that the area could be the country's 'Bermuda Triangle of Asia'.The two-seater plane vanished on October 20 and although debris and body parts were discovered the next day, authorities are at a loss to explain what happened.Following the incident, sections of the Taiwanese media aired grisly images of earlier plane crashes in the area, while the newspaper United Evening News ran the headline: 'The Bermuda terror.
Three hundred dead or missing in 40 years'.The reports prompted Penghu officials to issue a statement disputing the Bermuda Triangle comparison, which they fear might scare away investors.Most experts dismiss the idea and speculation that an irregular magnetic field disrupts navigation instruments.Scientists have found nothing abnormal in the area, geologist Chen Wen-shan at National Taiwan
University The Penghu Islands is located just off the mainlandThe pristine waters around the Penghu Islands, a popular beach destination 50 miles (80 kms) west of the Taiwanese mainland, have seen their share of crashes.Government records show at least three commercial planes, one civilian helicopter and five fighter jets have crashed in the area in the past two decades.During the Cold War in the 1960s and 1970s, several spy planes reportedly went down or missing while flying missions to mainland China.
The military refuses to confirm the reports, saying most of the documents remain classified.The deadliest accident came in May 2002, when a China Airlines flight to Hong Kong broke into four parts over seas north of Penghu, killing all 225 aboard. Seven months later, a cargo plane crashed in the same area.The back-to-back crashes bolstered the Bermuda Triangle speculation so much, that tourists all but shunned Penghu in the following months.
A rescue boat searches for bodies after an earlier crash in Penghu in 2002. Last week's plane disappearance has led to speculation the region is the 'Bermuda Triangle of Asia'So far, the recent fighter jet crash has not rekindled as many jitters among the public, much to the relief of local officials.Penghu County Chief, Wang Chien-fa, blamed the crashes on the high volume of air traffic, saying most of the mishaps have been shown to be the result of either human or mechanical failure.'With so many aircraft flying over our air space everyday, the chances of crashes are proportionally higher, and that's all,' he said.
Yuan Hsiao-Feng, an aviation expert at National Chengkung University, points to the high risks of military training flights.The islands, first settled by shipwrecked Chinese sailors 700 years ago, have an undersea ancient wall and other ruins. They also are an attraction because they were once at the forefront of the bitter Taiwan-China military standoff, said tourism official Hong Tung-lin.Hsiao-Feng said the Chinese have long seen the islands as mysterious, because of their inaccessibility and a past history of shipwrecks.South of Penghu, an area called the "Ditch of Black Waters" is a graveyard for numerous boats, said to have capsized in swirling seas during the height of Chinese immigration to Taiwan two to three centuries ago.Japanese pilots and sailors are said to have tried to avoid the rough seas off Penghu, known to them as the "devil's sea" during Japan's 50-year rule of Taiwan that ended in 1945.
Today, trawlers and cargo ships sail through the region safely.Hong said: 'The mystic perception is fine but we hope people will not associate this area with danger.'