Leaders of the Party and People's Committee in the central province of Quang Ngai held urgent meetings with provincial departments in Binh Chau and Binh Son Districts to discuss ways to stop the 500-year-old shipwreck from being plundered of valuable antiques.
During the meeting yesterday morning, October 14, the leaders heard reports of cases of hundreds of fishermen fighting and stoning authorities to rob the sunken ship from antiquities, in seawaters near Chau Thuan Commune, injuring five policemen.
The fishermen are seeing the 500-year-old shipwreck, containing priceless antiques, as a ‘fortune’ from the sea. While authorities are busy surveying the shipwreck, dozens of fishermen from Binh Chau Commune are swimming out to the shipwreck to grab what they can.
On shore, hundreds of fishermen flocked to the beach to scream and prevent ships from exploration tasks.
"Antiquities of the fishing village should be given to fishermen. The State cannot take them away," said some fishermen.
The police had arrested an agitating fisherman and immediately hundreds of fishermen gathered to break down the door and push the police van to help the fisherman escape.
|Fishermen flocked to the beach to shout and obstruct authorities from exploring the shipwreck (Photo: VNNet)|
Hundreds of policemen were mobilized to restore order. Colonel Nguyen Thanh Trang, deputy director of Quang Ngai Police emphasized that based on recorded images-the police will arrest all extremists.
After listening to the details, Nguyen Minh, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Quang Ngai said the artifacts in sunken ships are national assets, not only of economic value, but also of great historical significance.
Also at this meeting, Major General Le Xuan Hoa, Quang Ngai provincial police chief, proposed to urgently excavate artifacts in Binh Chau. He said that the provincial police have strengthened security forces, at the same time gathering information and completing profile prosecution cases of two criminal cases, for resisting officials on duty and destroying state property.
"The act of destroying state property and attacking the police has criminal intentions. We hope the people realize their wrongdoings and surrender to the authorities to be entitled to leniency by the law", said by Major General Hoa.
Dr. Doan Ngoc Khoi, Deputy Director of the Museum in Quang Ngai said, “Through the survey, we have identified that the ancient ship is nearly five meters wide. This is a fairly large-sized ship and so far the fishermen have taken only a few antiques from it".
Provincial Police is currently reviewing the arrest of disorderly people and those inciting others against officials on duty.
While waiting for the excavations, hundreds of police officers and soldiers will remain on duty both day and night on shore and at sea to prevent the fishermen from illegally salvaging antiques from the wreck.
Meanwhile, the Anh Duong (Sunshine) Company from HCMC has covered an area of 240 square meters with nets to protect the antiques.
The shipwreck is now protected by hundreds of police officers. However, hundreds of fishermen from Binh Chau Commune still insist that the antiques from the wreck are the ‘fortune’ of the fishing village, and hence the fishermen have a right over them.