In Poyang Lake in the Jiangxi Province, there exists a place known as Laoye Miao (Temple of the Old Fellow), which happens to sit upon the exact same latitude as the Bermunda Triangle, near 30 degrees north of the equator. Laoye Miao is situated on the northeastern shores of the lake near Duchang County and the waters surrounding it has been called "the devil's triangle", "place of death", and "East Bermuda Triangle", amongst others. Many people believe a supernatural force that violates the laws of physics exists here and is haunting this water route. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, nearly two hundred boats have sunk here, eighteen thousand people have lost their lives, and some thirty survivors went crazy. One can still visit this temple today, although it should be noted that you do so at your own risk.
April 16, 1945 was a clear and sunny day on Lake Poyang. A Japanese vessel known as the Kobe Maru was carrying a crew of two hundred and a cargo of treasures that included antiques, paintings, gold, silver, and pearls from China back home to Japan. When the ship neared Laoye Miao, fog descended and the rain poured down. The stunned crew was taken by surprise as a massive tide broke the ship apart and dragged it to the bottom of the lake along with its entire crew and cargo. As soon as the ship was gone the weather cleared and everything returned to normal.
Upon hearing this incident, Japanese commanders at the nearby Jiujing City naval base immediately dispatched an elite team of thirty divers to the location of the ship's disappearance. The lake only measured roughly 30 meters in depth where the ship had gone down so the crew assumed it was safe to dive. Team leader Colonel Tomohisa, together with seven other divers went down to find the ship and possible survivors. It was already dark when Colonel Tomohisa came up alone and petrified. Reports say his face was pale and emotionless and he remained unable to speak for several hours. He was transferred to Japan where he was diagnosed with a mental disorder and severe memory loss.
After World War II ended, the Nationalist government invited renowned diver and rescue expert Dr. Edward D.E. Boer (some sources say Bolton) to help uncover the Kobe Maru mystery. After months of intense searching, spending millions of yuan, and the disappearance of several American divers, Dr. Boer gave up his search and returned home. He didn't speak about the matter for nearly forty years.
The Kobe Maru in 1940
In a memoir published in the United Nations Environment News forty years later, Boer states that after searching underwater for about one kilometer, he and his team were suddenly dazzled by a bright light and a loud sound. He felt as if the lake was shaking and his ears were impacted by a high-pitched sound. Before he realized what was happening, he was pulled forcefully towards a vortex, and instantly felt dazed as he started to lose conscious. When he came too, he found himself grabbing hold of a reef while a bright white light whirled around at the bottom of the lake. Some of his crew were drawn in by the strange light and they disappeared into the vortex. Rescue missions later failed to find them.
Locals around the lake claim that the weather can change abruptly and storms can occur anytime. Fishermen are always known to hold ceremonies or burn incense before attempting to cross the lake. Wang Fangren is a local who had been sailing for nearly fifty years. "I remember one day in the winter of 2001, we were in the middle of the lake. At first everything looked fine but suddenly the weather changed abruptly. The wave was so strong that our ship was unable to move closer to the edge of the lake," he said. "Then suddenly one of the sand-carrying ships sunk." Wang says the storms at Laoye Miao happens without any signs and returns to normal after about twenty minutes.
Even today locals whose families have lived around the lake for generations still cross it in fear.
According to Han Lixian, a resident of nearby Duchang County, in 1977 the residents were ordered to construct three dams around the lake. One of the dams, which measured 2,000 feet in length, 160 ft in width, and 16 meters above the water, was built near Laoye Miao. One night the dam sunk without a sound.
But the problems didn't stop there. On August 3, 1985, a convoy of thirteen cargo vessels was traversing the lake. The largest vessel, which weighed nearly 2,000 tons, was sunk after a massive storm struck the convoy and devastated many boats. Rescue and recovery missions failed to find even a trace of the lost vessel.
Not long after, the Chinese government authorized a scientific mission into Lake Poyang to determine the causes of these disappearances. The diving team did not retrieve any significant evidence. On the last day of the mission, an unsatisfied Captain Shen Dahai left on his own to try and find answers. He never came back. The next afternoon the captain's body was found on the shores of Changba Shan Lake, 15 kilometers from Laoye Miao. Changba Shan Lake is a 20 square kilometers land locked body of water surrounded by mountains and not connected with Poyang Lake in any way. Changba Shan Lake is also 12 meters higher in altitude. No one can explain how the captain's body ended up there.
The string of abnormal occurrences have lead many to declare Lake Poyang as "China's Bermuda Triangle". And is it simply coincidence that Lake Poyang happens to sit near the same latitude as the Bermuda Triangle? The famous Bermuda Triangle sits at exactly 32.20' degrees North. Lake Poyang is situated at 28.22' - 29.45' degrees North.
Answers vary on why such strange events occur. Legend has it that in 1368 the Ming Taizu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was waging war on his nemesis Chen Youliang. Today known as the largest naval battle in terms of personnel, the Battle of Lake Poyang began badly for Zhu. The legend says that there were no boats or any other means for him to cross the lake, but a giant turtle suddenly appeared and helped Zhu across. After Zhu won the battle and became the emperor, he designated the turtle as a general and built a temple near the lake in memory of him. Locals believe that the turtle’s spirit is what has been causing the abnormal phenomenon in the lake. Others claims that perhaps the spirits of the dead sailors from that ancient battle haunts these waters.
Unsatisfied with the legends, several scientists ran a series of infrared scans on the lake. They found a cliff of sand 6,600 ft under the lake running from east to west of the waters near Laoye Miao. They believe the sand cliff has been causing the swirling waters below the lake. The whirlpool is believed to be strong enough to sink ships and boats.
Cliff of Sad at Lake Poyang
However neither of those theories can truly explain why the missing ships are nowhere to be found. Nor does it explain the disappearances or the strange mental illnesses of some thirty survivors. What was so traumatic that caused Colonel Tomohisa to lose his memory? What killed Captain Shen Dahai? Are these disturbances really caused by the spirit of an angry turtle or is it something even deeper? The Poyang Lake has long been an important water way for ancient porcelain trade and as China's largest freshwater lake, it is still a popular waterway and tourist area today. Perhaps in the future we can unlock the mysteries of the lake. But for now we can only ponder at the possibilities and the explanations.