Indonesian fishermen find old sunken ship

(AP) -- A sunken ship that may be several centuries old and containing green and gray ceramics has been found off remote Indonesian islands recently hit by a tsunami, officials said Thursday.

Fishermen who found the vessel believe the Oct. 26 wave off the Mentawai islands - which killed more than 500 people - lifted the 20-foot- (7-meter-) long ship from the and pushed it closer to shore, said Yosmeri, who heads West Sumatra's Maritime and Fishery Department.

Wooden ships laden with ceramic pots, golden necklaces and valuable spices for centuries navigated Indonesian waters, a key trade route linking Asia with Europe and the Middle East. Hundreds are said to litter the off West Sumatra province.

The pots, jugs and bowls found last week still need to be tested to determine their origin and age, Yosmeri said, but he added that they are similar to 14th century found inside sunken Chinese vessels.

Local fisherman say they found the wooden ship after spotting its mast 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the beach off Pagai Island, hardest hit by the tsunami.

They dove into the water and emerged with several well-preserved jugs and pots found in the hull, which they said was laden with more treasures.

Pictures of the artifacts have been sent to the capital, Jakarta, and teams will be sent to the area soon to carry out a more extensive search, Yosmeri said.


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