Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Officials in India say they know roughly the area where missionary John Allen Chau's body is buried on a remote island, but have not figured out how to retrieve it.
Chau was believed to have been killed by tribesmen on isolated North Sentinel Island, but Indian authorities said they have not been able to independently confirm his death. The American missionary reached the shores of the island, which is forbidden to outsiders under Indian law, on Nov. 16.
The missionary said in writings that he wanted to travel to the island to convert the small isolated tribe to Christianity and was undeterred by the possibility of violence. North Sentinel Island, in the Bay of Bengal, has been home to its indigenous people for thousands of years and have violently repelled outsiders who tried to visit it.
The fishermen who took him to the island told authorities they saw the Sentinelese tribesman dragging Chau's body around on Nov. 17 on his third trip to the island.
"We have mapped the area (where Chau is possibly buried) with the help of these fishermen," Dependra Pathak, a top police official in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told CNN. "We have not spotted the body yet but we roughly know the area where he is believed to be buried.
"The mission was done from a distance to avoid any potential conflict with the tribespeople as it's a sensitive zone. We are discussing with anthropologists and psychologists about the nature of the Sentinelese."
Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, a tribal protection human rights group, said in a statement Monday that Indian authorities should abandon their efforts to recover Chau's body.
"Any such attempt is incredibly dangerous, both for the Indian officials, but also for the Sentinelese, who face being wiped out if any outside diseases are introduced," Corry wrote. "The risk of a deadly epidemic of flu, measles or other outside disease is very real, and increases with every such contact.
"... Mr. Chau's body should be left alone, as should the Sentinelese. The weakening of the restrictions on visiting the islands must be revoked, and the exclusion zone around the island properly enforced," he continued.
Authorities said they believe that Chau was shot and killed by arrows as he attempted to reach shore for a third time. Before returning to the island, where he was met with violence his first two trips before escaping, he left a note for his family saying that he did not want to die but God has given him the strength to go to the island.
Indian officials claimed that Chau knew that going to the island was illegal as well as the risk but was determined to engage the tribespeople.