Old shipwrecks keep showing up along central Vietnam

TN News

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Fishermen in the central province of Quang Ngai on Monday discovered another ancient shipwreck near the shore, just as authorities had begun trying to protect another shipwreck site found four days ago.

The sunken boat is located around 30 to 40 meters offshore in Binh Chau Commune of Binh Son District, one kilometer to the northwest of the old wreck discovered around midnight last Thursday, also by local fishing boats.

Its finding at around noon drew many fishing boats over for an antiques hunt, with hundreds of onlookers jostling on the shore. Police only managed to clear the chaos after several hours.

Doan Ngoc Khoi, deputy director of Quang Ngai Museum, said the boat is the fourth shipwreck found in provincial waters, and its location is adjacent to the first salvaged in 1999.

The second discovery was last September and the boat, around 100 meters from the third, was fished out last month, with around 4,000 intact antiques recovered from as far back as the 13th century.

Based on pieces of potteries police seized from fishermen, Khoi said antiques from both the third and fourth discoveries probably came from the 17th century.

Nguyen Dang Vu, director of Quang Ngai Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said upon the third discovery that the finding of the shipwrecks would not only enrich Vietnam's antiques collections, but also helped provide evidence of a silk and pottery route involving Asian and Western traders across the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea, centuries ago.

The province has allowed Ho Chi Minh City-based salvage company Doan Anh Duong, which helped with the excavation last month, to launch a survey of the waters.

Vietnam has excavated four other old shipwrecks since the 1990s, in waters off Vung Tau and Kien Giang in the south, all after fishermen's discoveries and looting.

Seabed Exploration, a company that specializes in salvaging shipwrecks in Southeast Asia, estimates that Vietnamese waters have around 40 old ships, but the government has done little with the information.

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