WWII shipwrecks off Malaysia broken for scrap—divers


KUALA LUMPUR: Three World War II shipwrecks off the coast of Malaysia—the final resting place of dozens of seamen—have almost disappeared, local divers say, with the finger pointing at possible scrap metal scavengers.The Japanese cargo vessels, which went down with their crews off the coast of Sabah in 1944, had become popular dive sites, teeming with fish and coral. But local operators say the wrecks have been reduced to rumps, stripped of valuable metals that they believe are being sold on for profit. Mark Hedger, owner of a diving center in Sabah and a frequent visitor to the sites, told AFP they had now almost disappeared. There are scores of WWII shipwrecks littered throughout Southeast Asia, the result of fierce naval battles between Japanese and Allied forces.The wrecks, some of which have never been properly documented, are treated as war graves because the bodies of the crews were never recovered. Sabah scuba diver Monica Chin said: “We need to know who did this and must bring them to justice. All of us are concerned and we suspect that someone is stealing the parts for scrap metal.” “We have to conserve our history. It is really very sad,” she added.



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