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Polar Quest: Nobile

New hope for the survivors

  • — Date of event: Wednesday 06, June 1928 —

SOS call from airship Italia misunderstood! Italia crew is nowhere near Franz Josef Land.

article summary —

SOS call from airship Italia misunderstood! Italia crew is nowhere near Franz Josef Land.

Among the men on the ice pack, wet, cold and freezing, there is not a lot of hope. One of them fiddles with the radio and picks up a fragment of a news broadcast. It tells of messages being passed from the Soviet authorities in Moscow to the Italian government, confirming that radio signals have been received from the Italia crew, evidently stranded somewhere near Franz Josef Land.

But joy at hearing this news is tempered by one critical misunderstanding. In sending out SOS calls, the Italia crew never once mentioned Franz Josef Land, which is far away to the east. The place mentioned was Isola Foyn, a rocky outcrop in the Arctic ice northeast of Spitsbergen.

Over the many days stranded, the Italia crew had quite precisely pinpointed their location, and it was most certainly nowhere near Franz Josef Land. Clearly the location mentioned in the SOS message has been misunderstood. It could be that, by some awful irony of fate, the very message which might have saved them could lead rescue teams to entirely the wrong location. But the news spurs efforts to tend the fragile radio and to try and send further SOS messages.

This article was published in Polar Quest: Nobile.

About The Authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

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