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Alaska man accidentally sails to Russia

August 3, 2018

An Alaskan man traveling in a one-person boat down the Yukon River accidentally entered the Bering Sea and has landed in Russia's isolated Far East. He has been detained and will likely be deported.

The frozen coast of Chukotka, Russia
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Y. Smityuk

A man from Alaska spent several days in rough weather in a one-person boat after accidentally entering the formidable Bering Sea before landing in Russia's Chukotka region, officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Read more: Climate change: A village falls into the sea  

Border guards stopped John Martin William III, 46, in the coastal village of Lavrentiya.

"It turns out he was sailing on the Yukon River in Alaska in his personal one-man boat," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"Around two weeks ago he decided to go out into the open sea and, because of difficult meteorological conditions and a lack of a navigation system, he spent a few days in the open sea and that's how he ended up on Russian soil," she said.

USA Fort Yukon in Alaska
The man apparently sailed from the Yukon River (seen here) into the Bering SeaImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Zuma Press/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner/S. Harrel

Zakharova said William was in good condition and would be transferred to Anadyr, Chukotka's capital.

The US Embassy in Moscow said it was working with local authorities to assist the American citizen, who lives in Anchorage. 

Heavily militarized coast

The Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide at its narrowest point. It is known for its strong currents, cold water and choppy seas.

The Russian side of the strait is heavily militarized, and access to foreigners severely restricted.

In 2006, a British adventurer and his American counterpart became only the second pair of explorers to cross the frozen Bering Sea on foot before being arrested and deported from Russia.

cw/cmk (AFP, AP)

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