Ship, older than Titanic, found

Kendrapada, May 5:

Marine archaeologists have discovered the remains of a sunken French ship in the Bay of Bengal in Orissa that they believe may be older than the early 20th century Titanic.

The ship has been found near the Hukitola Island, about 50 km from the district headquarters of Kendrapada. It is believed to be older than the Titanic, researcher Loknath Dora of the National Institute of Oceanography said during a visit to the site.

Built in Ireland as the largest and most luxurious vessel of its time, the Titanic suffered a fatal accident on its maiden voyage in 1912, drowning over 1,500 people on board.

The newly discovered ship, Veleda, is 250 feet long and 50 feet wide. It was believed to have sunk while carrying food grains, sugar, wine and other goods from Paris to India in 1875, Dora said.

Some crew members of the ship also drowned and their bodies were buried in a cemetery near the lighthouse, he said.

John Beames who served as collector of Cuttack from 1875 to 1878 and later as collector of Balasore district from 1869 to 1873 has in his autobiography, Memories of a Bengal Civilian, described this ship, said Dora.

The sunken ship has become an impediment to the movement of fishing boats in the region,

particularly at night. “We can see the upper portion of the sunken ship during low tide but when high tide comes, the ship is not visible,” said Tusharkanta Sardar, president of the district fishermen’s association.

Many boats have suffered damage after hitting the ship, he said. Fishermen had apparently spotted the ship at least five years ago. But the administration did not take their claims seriously.