In the lead up to Halloween, it’s likely you’ll hear spooky stories about skeletons or mysterious bodies resurfacing from ancient lakes.
So if I told you the entire focus of this article is to tell you about a skeleton lake, you’d probably expect a made up story intended to scare you, right?
Wrong. Back in 1942, a frozen lake was discovered in Roopkund, India. The discovery of the lake itself wasn’t the strange part though – the fact was hundreds of skeletons could be seen below the surface.
The lake was located at the bottom of a small valley, thousands of feet above sea level and as such was uninhabited and undiscovered for a long time.
According to Atlas Obscura, more than 200 skeletons were found, each of which had been preserved due to cold temperatures. This meant that when they were discovered, the skeletons still had some flesh and hair.
Despite this, it was clear to everyone that these remains had been there for a long period of time – potentially hundreds of years. But no one could figure out what exactly had happened to these people.
For years, mystery surrounded this lake and people wondered what could have caused the demise of so many people.
Everyone’s first thought was that the skeletons were Japanese soldiers who had met their untimely death when they attempted to sneak into India. This was quickly ruled out though, as the bones were tested and deemed to be much older than they initially thought.
But the questions just kept growing: Who were these people? What led to them all dying simultaneously? Could it have been mass suicide? A freak accident?
For decades these questions went unanswered, until 2004 when an expedition to the site finally provided some unusual answers.
In fact, it turned out these skeletal remains were more than 1,000 years old and dated all the way back to 850 AD. Incredible. How had they gone for so long without being discovered?
This wasn’t the only thing the researchers found, though. DNA evidence suggested the people had all died in a similar fashion, as all suffered blows to the head.
At this point I’m confused, because what circumstances led to over 200 people dying in such a way? Did a tribe attack them, only striking them in the head? Seems unlikely. Did an avalanche strike, hitting every single on of them on the head? Hard to believe, right?
Well, it turns out the actual explanation seems even more unlikely. Upon further inspection, each of the deep cracks in the skulls were found to be rounded – therefore unlikely to be caused by a weapon. The skeletons also had wounds on their heads and shoulders but nowhere else on the body, suggesting whatever had hit them had come from above.
All of the evidence suggested the same thing and it was concluded that the people had been killed by a sudden, freak hailstorm. I told you it was hard to believe.
And although such freak incidents are rare, they do happen. In fact, in 2017 The World Meteorological Organization announced that the highest mortality associated with a hailstorm occurred in 1888, again in India. The storm killed 246 people with hailstones as large as ‘goose eggs and oranges and cricket balls’.
More recently, a mother from Queensland, Australia, was left covered in bruises after protecting her baby from huge hailstones during a storm.
Fiona Simpson was driving with her baby daughter and grandmother on Thursday (October 11) when the storm started, resulting in tennis ball sized hailstones smashing through the car windows.
All three members of the family were taken to hospital after the incident, as despite Fiona’s best efforts her baby was hit on the head by a large chunk of ice.
She took to Facebook to explain what happened:
I’ve learnt my lesson today, NEVER drive in a hail storm! We parked on the side of the road when the storm got to heavy and the hail blew out our windows.
I covered my infant with my body to stop her from getting badly injured. Please, please be careful in this storm season.
Luckily, no one was seriously injured but it just goes to show how terrifying nature can truly be. And with winter on the horizon, it’s better to be safe than sorry out there!
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).