Exploration of steam engine wrecks off Minicoy Island, Laksadsweep, India
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The Minicoy Atoll is crescent-shaped with a long, narrow strip extending northwards. The lagoon is, as in all the Lakshadweep Islands, towards the west, having a depth of more than 12 m. The shelf on the eastern side is narrow with a bulge at the centre, where the depth increases sharply from 20 to 200 m. Underwater exploration was undertaken at the eastern part of Minicoy Island. Being the southernmost island of the union territory of Lakshadweep. Minicoy is on the international sea route. There are several wrecks around Minicoy Island as mentioned by the local residents of the area. During the present exploration three wrecks were found, of which two were explored. Small parts of the wrecks were visible above water. Wreak-1: This is the southernmost wreck so far located. The ship is lying 200 m from the shore. The water depth at this site changes rapidly from 4 to 15 m. The ship sank parallel to the shore and tilled towards the deeper water. Its approximate length is 100 m and beam about 20 m. It is a steam-engine ship, but boilers were not seen. Wreck 2: This wreck is lying about 200 m south of the first wreck and perpendicular to the shore. It is also lies in 4 to 15 m of water. It is estimated to be over 100 m long. The boilers and engine parts are well preserved. The ship is tilted towards the starboard and in shape, size and type is similar to Wreck-1. The aft portion of the ship has fallen in deeper water. The vessels were probably cargo ships. Although the identification of the ships is not possible at present, further exploration may provide important clues. They face a potential threat in that commercial companies may get licence from the local administration to salvage them. A third wreak is already being salvaged by a local company.
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