Deep-sea explorers located the wreckage of a japanese ship which was torpedoed during the Second World War near the Philippines and in which over a thousand prisoners died, mostly Australians.
The ship “Montevideo Maru” was found on April 18 more than 4,000 meters deep in the South China Sea, 110 kilometers from the Philippine island of Luzon, the Silentworld Foundation for underwater archeology announced on Saturday.
The discovery of the ship, sunk on July 1, 1942 by a US submarine whose crew was unaware they were carrying prisoners of war, came after 12 days of searching with an underwater drone with sonar.
“We believe it was hit by two torpedoes”, he said by telephone to the AFP Captain Roger Turnertechnical director of the expedition.
The ship broke in two, the bow and stern lying about 500 meters from each other on the seabed, it added.
The sinking of the “Montevideo Maru” is one of Australia’s worst maritime tragedies.
According to the Silentworld Foundation, Nearly 1,060 people of 14 nationalities died, including 979 Australiansof which 850 were military.
They had been captured a few months earlier by Japanese forces in the fall of the coastal municipality of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.
“Finally, the resting place for the lost souls of the ‘Montevideo Maru’ has been found. We hope the news provides some comfort. to loved ones who have had a long vigil,” said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
According to the Silentworld Foundation, it took more than five years to plan the search mission, which began on April 6.
“A terrible chapter in history”
Silentworld claimed that the remains of the “Montevideo Maru”, which They are deeper than those of the “Titanic”, they will not be withdrawn.
Neither objects nor human remains will be removed, out of respect for the families of the victims.
“The discovery of the ‘Montevideo Maru’ closes a terrible chapter in Australia’s military and maritime history”, declared John Mullendirector of Silentworld, which has carried out the search together with the Dutch offshore prospecting company Fugro and the Australian military.
“Families waited for years for news of their missing loved ones before learning of the tragic outcome. Some never fully accepted that their loved ones were among the victims,” he recounted.
The Australian participated in the search mission andrea williamswhose grandfather and great-uncle, both prisoners of war, died in the sinking of the ship.
Is “very emotional, but also a great source of pride to have been able to find the remains” of the ship, told the AFPstating that the news was “extremely comforting” for the relatives of the victims.
The discovery of the remains of the ship ended 81 years of uncertainty for the families of the victims, declared General simon stuarthead of the Australian Army.
“Such a loss spans decades and reminds us of the human cost of conflicthe declared.
Among the dead on board the “Montevideo Maru” were 33 sailors from the Norwegian freighter “Herstein” -also taken prisoner by the Japanese in Rabaul- and about twenty Japanese guards and crew, according to Silentworld.
According to the same source, among the victims of the shipwreck were citizens of other countries: the United Kingdom, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Sweden and the United States.
(With information from AFP)
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