19th century shipwrecks off Indian Ocean

19th century shipwrecks off Indian Ocean

CANBERRA-The Associated Press
19th century shipwrecks off Indian Ocean

A four-year search of the depths of the Indian Ocean has failed to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But the unprecedented sonar hunt for the missing airliner might be close to solving 19th century mysteries - the locations of two sailing ships that vanished with cargos of coal.

Maritime historians on May 3 published a short list of the possible identities of two shipwrecks found during the initial 710,000-square kilometer (274,000-square mile) three-year search for the Boeing 777 that was lost in 2014 with 238 people aboard.

The wrecks, found in 2015, are 36 kilometers (22 miles) apart and 2,300 kilometers (1,440 miles) southwest of Australia in debris fields scattered with coal more than 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) below the ocean’s surface.

The searchers had a closer look with underwater drones that took photographs of both sites and retrieved a coal sample from one.

Analysis showed the coal was probably from Britain, a Western Australian Museum report said.

The museum’s examination of the images of the scattered remnants of a wooden ship discovered on May 19, 2015, found it was possibly the brig W. Gordon or the barque Magdala, according to incomplete records of ships lost in that period.

W. Gordon was on a voyage from Scotland to Australia when it disappeared in 1877 with 10 crew aboard. Magdala was lost in 1882 while sailing from Wales to Indonesia.