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Gold-laden shipwreck will be raised next week
by www.sowetan.co.za

The operation is costing R100,000 a day

A gold-laden, 500-year-old Portuguese shipwreck discovered by chance off Namibia will be salvaged by the end of next week.

This is according to the ministry of culture in Lisbon, Portugal.

A team of archaeologists from Portugal, the United States and Zimbabwe are working to raise the wreck before October 10 — the deadline set by Namibian government officials owing to huge costs involved.

Last week, the Namibian culture ministry said the rescue operation was costing some 100,000 Namibian dollars (R100,000) per day.

All that is keeping the wreck intact is an artificial sand wall created by mine workers with bulldozers to push back the sea for diamond dredging.

However, the Portuguese government said that its “fundamental interest” is “to guarantee the complete protection” of the ship and the adjacent sea-bed’s remaining cargo.

The ship was found in April during the diamond dredging operation.

It contained over 2,300 gold coins weighing some 21 kilograms, six bronze cannons, silver, several tonnes of copper, huge elephant tusks and a variety of weapons — all tugged out of the sand.

Experts believe more treasure will be found under its resting place when the salvage operation is complete.

The statement said the rescue work should have been finished by October 2, but recent bad weather would now delay completion until October 10.

“The relics will be rescued by the expected date for the end of the operations,” a spokesman for the Portuguese ministry of culture told AFP.

The abundance of objects unearthed where the ship ran aground along Namibia’s notorious Skeleton coast, where hundreds of vessels were wrecked over the centuries, has amazed even hardened experts.

Under international maritime laws, a wreck and its treasures belong to the country where they were found, and the initial haul of coins is now locked in the vaults of the Bank of Namibia in Windhoek.

The government said it plans at some point to mount an exhibition of the findings and later erect a special museum in Oranjemund to house the incredible collection.

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