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Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt Disappears

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Australian Prime Minister Disappears (1967):

He might have been eaten by a shark. Or maybe he was assassinated by secret agents from the Soviet Union. Of course, he could have possibly been picked up by a Chinese submarine. Others have said that he might have committed suicide or been picked up by a UFO. Such were the rumors and conspiracy theories that ran rampant after the disappearance of Harold Holt, Australia's 17th Prime Minister, on December 17, 1967.

Harold Holt was only 59 years old when he went missing and yet he had already served a lifetime in service to Australia's government. After having spent 32 years in Parliament, he became Australia's Prime Minister in January 1966. However, his tenure as Prime Minister was very short; he had been Prime Minister for only 22 months when he went for a swim on that fateful day in December 1967.

On December 17, 1967, Holt went with a few friends to Cheviot Beach (near Portsea in Melbourne), as he had done on numerous other weekends. It was one of his favorite places to relax, to swim, and to spearfish. Although the waters were extremely rough, Holt still went into the ocean for a swim. Perhaps he had become complacent about the dangers of the ocean since he had a long history of swimming at this location or perhaps he didn't realize quite how rough the water really was that day.

At first, his friends could see him swimming. As the waves grew more ferocious, his friends soon realized that he was in trouble. They shouted at him to come back, but the waves kept him away from the shore. A few minutes later, they had lost him. He was gone.

A monumental search and rescue attempt was launched, but the search was eventually called off without ever having found Holt's body. Two days after he went missing, Holt was presumed dead and a funeral service was held for him on December 22.

Although conspiracy theories still abound surrounding Holt's death, the mostly likely cause of his death was the bad sea conditions. Quite possibly his body was eaten by sharks (a nearby area is known to be shark territory), but just as likely is that the extreme undertow took his body out to sea.

Holt was the third Australian Prime Minister to die in office but is best remembered for the unusual circumstances surrounding his death.

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