The Looting Of Underwater Tombs: The Scrap Yards Of The Sea Chop Ships Sunk In The Pacific War To Sell The Metal To China

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Neither the pyramids of Egypt nor the Roman necropolis. The “biggest robbery of graves in the world”, as they have described it, is taking place under the waters that bathe the coasts of Malaysia , Singapore and Indonesia . During the last years, the vestiges of dozens of sunken ships during World War II have disappeared from the bottom of these seas , a pillage that takes away both the hulls of the vessels and the human remains of those who fell in combat and that They are still inside the wrecks.

The last to join this particular list are two Dutch submarines destroyed in December 1941 by Japanese mines off the Malaysian coast. As it was learned last July, the ships (the HNLMS O 16 and the HNLMS K XVII , for more signs) disappeared mysteriously, leaving behind only some loose fragments and ghostly grooves in the seabed. No sign of the 79 bodies of the crew that perished on board.

As on previous occasions, its fading points to the action of the maritime scrap metal dealers, very active in the area. In 2017, an investigation by the British newspaper The Guardian determined that about 40 ships of one hundred sinks during the race – British, Japanese, American and Dutch, among others – have already been partially or totally dismantled by these underwater pirates. In their day, these remains were declared war graves, which makes them deserving of the protection of international law and implies that the desecration of the bodies that are inside is an illegal act.

In general, if the ship in question is of a considerable size, a theft of these characteristics requires several phases. First, divers place several explosive charges to reduce it to more manageable portions. During the following days or weeks, a crane is responsible for gradually removing the pieces. Finally, these salt water scavengers sell steel, aluminum, copper and brass parts to third parties.

It is believed that human remains found in wrecks end up in a mass grave in Indonesia

According to the British newspaper, the growing demand for scrap by China makes it profitable to sell even the poor quality steel, which can be paid around 1.1 million euros per vessel.

In addition, having been manufactured before the explosions of the 1945 atomic bombs and subsequent nuclear tests, the steel of these ships is free of radiation and turns out to be a highly priced material for the development of precise calibration instruments such as Geiger counters. radioactivity or space sensors. On the human remains, some information indicates that they have been discarded by those in charge of shredding the wrecks when they arrive on land in a common, anonymous grave, near the town of Brondong, east of the Indonesian island of Java .

Since the first cases were heard, the authorities of the affected countries are working for Indonesia and Malaysia to do more to protect sunken ships. Asian nations have been receptive, although they refuse to bear the blame for what happened and point out that other countries cannot expect them to dedicate themselves to protecting these places without receiving help.

The Looting Of Underwater Tombs: The Scrap Yards Of The Sea Chop Ships Sunk In The Pacific War To Sell The Metal To China

Meanwhile, this situation has also provoked internal criticism in the affected countries, especially among groups of war veterans or relatives of sailors who perished on ships. “This is very bad, it does not allow them to have rest. That ship was his grave, ”said Jet Bussemaker, granddaughter of the commander in front of one of the Dutch submarines that have evaporated.

 

Source: La Vanguardia

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