'Into The Wild' bus removed from Alaska wilderness

Bus has been airlifted out due to safety concerns after several people have died or been injured trying to reach it

The abandoned bus in Alaska featured in the film Into The Wild has been removed after increasing numbers of tourists got into difficulties visiting it.

The bus had sat at its location on the Stampede Trail in the Alaskan wilderness for 60 years. It was the site of the 1992 death of 24-year-old Virginian Christopher McCandless, which was depicted in the 1996 best-selling book Into the Wild that was later adapted into a feature film.

Since then, the bus has drawn visitors - some of them following in McCandless' footsteps - with varying levels of preparedness for enduring wilderness conditions and crossing the swift Teklanika River.

The replica of the school bus that Chris McCandless lived in, this one was used for the filming of Into the Wild

The bus was deep in central Alaska, 30 miles (50km) from the nearest town. To reach it, visitors had to cross the Teklanika River. It was this river that blocked McCandless in, ultimately sealing his fate.

Last year a newlywed woman from Belarus drowned trying to cross the swollen river. The other drowning took place in 2010.

In April a stranded Brazilian had to be evacuated and in February five Italians were rescued, with one suffering severe frostbite.

The state carried out 15 bus-related search and rescue operations between 2009 and 2017, authorities say. The 1940s bus was brought to the remote trail about 60 years ago by a road crew and some local officials have long called for its removal.

"It's a little bittersweet, honestly," said Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker. "We know it's the right thing to do for public safety, yet at the same time I watched it go down the Stampede Road, it does feel like a piece of your history moving on."

The Alaska natural resources commissioner, Corri Feige, said the Alaska Army National Guard moved the bus as part of a training mission “at no cost to the public or additional cost to the state”.

The Alaska National Guard, in a release, said the bus was removed using a heavy-lift helicopter. The crew ensured the safety of a suitcase with sentimental value to the McCandless family.

Feige said in a statement the bus would be kept in a secure location while her department weighed various options for what to do with it.

“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” her statement said. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts. More importantly, it was costing some visitors their lives.”

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