Missing Malta children, students & teachers Lost in Tunnels, victims of Giant Beings in the Hypogeum

In Malta a fourth grade class and its teachers walked into ancient underground tunnels, never to be seen again.

Malta is a chain of islands in the middle of the Meditterranean. Before gaining independence, in times of war, because of its strategic location it has changed hands from the Phoenicians, to the Romans, to the Normans, to the British. But before it was drawn into World War II it was the setting for a tragedy that drew world-wide attention.

The first people to disappear from Malta was neolithic man, who migrated from the island of Sicily five thousand years before Christ. After hunting the indigenous pigmy Hippos and pigmy Elephants to the point of exinction, they established a prehistoric dynasty lasting nearly three millenia, erecting temples made of blocks quarried from the local sandstone, many of which remain standing today. Then they vanished without a trace, as if victim of some invading army which had no intention of settling the land.

The sandstone substrate also made it easy for them to tunnel underground. The tiny islands cover only 122 square miles and the land is completely honeycombed with subterranean passages. In 1902 in the small Maltese town of Paola, two laborers were digging a well on Main Street. One of them fell into a cavern, resulting in the discovery of an underground complex of chambers and tunnels. This entrance was named after the Main Street and is called the “Hypogeum of Hal Saflienti”. “Hypogeum” is Latin for underground construction.

In 1937, when Adolf Hitler’s greatest problem was how to pay for the Autobahn, a group of thirty Maltese schoolchildren along with two teachers and one tour guide, took a field trip to the Hypogeum. Part of their tour was a short descent by rope to the third sub-level. Beyond that chamber the passages branched out in the complexity of a maze. One wrong turn and the group had sealed its fate, unable to find its way back to the entrance.

Many of the older houses on the island had a door inside, opening directly into the catacombs. When grieving mothers gathered at the Hypogeum they claimed to hear the distant screams of the children. This was confirmed by those homeowners with private access to the tunnels, who also reported the echoes of the crying youngsters, which lasted for days. This ends the story, exactly as reported in the August 1940 issue of National Geographic magazine.

One year before this horrific incident, the same chamber from which the children were to disappear was explored by Lois Jessop, an Englishwoman who worked as a secretary at the British Embassy in the capitol. She also published an account of her tour in the “Journal of Borderland Research”. Lois also climbed down the rope, but her tour guide was not willing to follow. In those days the way was not lit by electric light, nor flashlights, nor torches. Each tourist was expected to carry their own candle.

With only half a candle left, Lois moved forward until she found herself on a ledge and could walk no further. The chasm between her and the sandstone wall opposite seemed bottomless, but she only had enough light to see fifty feet down. She was intrigued to see a similar ledge on the opposite wall, about thirty feet below the projection on which she stood. Then she was spellbound as she observed twenty persons emerge from the darkness, walking single-file on the narrow ledge below. She judged their height to be more than three times that of a full grown man. They were taking long strides and walking very slowly.

The giants began to notice her presence, and one by one they stopped and lifted their heads to stare at Ms. Jessop. Just then she felt hot wax searing her hand. She dropped her candle, and was immediately enveloped in total darkness. If she had not tied the rope around her waist, if she had not the presence of mind to call up to her guide Joseph, to pull her back, she may well have fallen into the cold air of the chasm.

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Missing Malta children, students & teachers Lost in Tunnels, victims of Giant Beings in the Hypogeum

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