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Fishermen who took Chau to the island—which he’d reportedly visited several times—say he was shot to death with arrows, his body left on the shoreline. A source tells AFP, via NDTV, that the 27-year-old had first tried to get onto the island on Nov. 14, failed, and then went back on Friday.
He left the fishermen’s dinghy in a canoe and was bombarded with arrows when he got to shore, though “he continued walking,” per the source. When the fishermen saw tribespeople “tying a rope around his neck and dragging his body,” they got out of there.
The next morning they cautiously re-approached the island and said they saw Chau’s body on the beach. It has traditionally been illegal to make contact with the Sentinelese, though NDTV notes that a ban on foreigners visiting the island without prior government approval was lifted earlier this year—a decision criticized by a tribal-rights advocacy group.
Police say seven fishermen have been arrested, and helicopters are said to have been deployed to look for Chau’s body, though how they’ll retrieve it once they find it is unknown, as the notoriously hostile Sentinelese are known to even attack choppers. Sources say Chau was a “preacher” who’d been interested in converting the tribe.
“When a US citizen is missing, we work closely with local authorities as they carry out their search efforts,” says a rep for the US Consulate in Chennai, per the AP.
Edited from Newser.