19th century shipwreck to be recovered in central Vietnam

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Officials in the central province of Thua Thien Hue are preparing to recover a shipwreck believed to date from the early 19th century, Tuoi Tre reported Thursday.

According to the newspaper, the ship is located some two meters under water and 100 meters from the Xuan Thien Ha Beach in Vinh Xuan Commune, Phu Vang District.

The survey on the ship will last for ten days with the support of swimmers, workers and specialized equipment.

In reports published this May, Tuoi Tre quoted the commune authorities as saying that the ship was discovered some 60-70 years ago and has been looted since.

Tran Van De, chairman of Vinh Xuan's People's Committee, said Nguyen Cong Tinh, who runs a scrap shop in the former imperial capital of Hue, was given permission to exploit the ship by the district's military command.

However, in May commune authorities suspended the permission and deemed it illegal, De said in an interview with the newspaper that month.

Tinh then submitted a list of things he found on the ship to the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The list included a set of elephant leg bones, and two ancient coins from the Emperor Minh Mang Era (1791-1841), the news source said.

It also quoted a cultural official as saying that the ship, which operated on steam power, is about 60 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide. Most of its body is buried under sand.

Meanwhile, Ho Tan Phan, a cultural researcher, told the newspaper that the ship likely dated from the first half of the 19th century and was quite large and advanced for its time.

He suspected it was a given to the Nguyen Dynasty by France at the end of Emperor Tu Duc's reign (Sept 22, 1829 July 17, 1883).

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