LAST REMAINING KON-TIKI SAILOR DIES

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Famous raft voyage occurred in 1947

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 4, 2010) - Norwegian Knut Haugland, the last crewman of the Kon-Tiki raft that crossed the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia in 1947, died of natural causes in Oslo's hospital just before the end of 2009, the BBC News reported online. Haugland was 92 years old.

The head of the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo confirmed Haugland's death.

The Kon-Tiki was a balsa wood raft that famous Norwegian explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl skippered on a 6,000-kilometer (3,728-mile) journey from Peru to French Polynesia. The Tuamotu atoll of Raroia was the raft's landfall.

Heyerdahl claimed that the voyage proved ancient cultures could have sailed to, and populated, the South Pacific. He realized that the Pacific Ocean currents running from east to west could explain why many local plants indigenous to French Polynesia were identical to those of South America.

Heyerdahl died of cancer at the age of 87 in April 2002.

Swedish anthropologist Bengt Danielsson was the only member of the Kon-Tiki crew who settled in French Polynesia. His doctoral thesis on the Tuamotu archipelago, submitted to Uppsala University in 1955, was published the following year as "Work and Life on Raroia".

Danielsson later wrote many books about Tahiti and Her Islands, "becoming one of the world's foremost students of Polynesia", according to Wikipedia, the Internet's encyclopedia.

He and his French wife, Marie-Thérèse, also became famous as outspoken critics of France's 30-year nuclear testing program in French Polynesia and what they claimed was "the destruction of Polynesian culture through colonialism", Wikipedia reports.

Danielsson died in 1997. His wife died in 2003.

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