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Bridge construction damages famous shipwreck

Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2016, MVT 16:18
The MV Victory shipwreck off the coast of airport island Hulhule. PHOTO/HUSSAIN "SENDI" RASHEED
Fathmath Shaahunaz
25 October 2016, MVT 16:18

The famous MV Victory shipwreck off the southwest coast of airport island Hulhule has sustained major damages from anchors of marine vessels deployed for the ongoing construction of the overwater bridge between Hulhule and capital Male, local divers reported.

The wreck of MV Victory is one of the most stunning dive spots in the Maldives that has also gained international popularity.

The housing ministry in collaboration with divers had taken protective actions around the dive spot in March this year to prevent damages to the preserved wreck from bridge construction. Four buoys had been set up to mark the location of the wreck, with the divers assured that bridge workers would steer clear of the area during development.

However, divers recently publicised photographs taken of MV Victory, depicting damages caused to the wreck by the anchors of vessels deployed for the bridge.

The MV Victory shipwreck off the coast of airport island Hulhule. PHOTO/HUSSAIN "SENDI" RASHEED

Among the team of divers was popular local diver and environmental activist, Hussain “Sendi” Rasheed, who reported that their dive to MV Victory on October 15 had revealed two wings of the wreck’s wheelhouse that were completely destroyed. He added that large sections of the three decks below the wheelhouse had also been damaged.

“In response to reports we received, six of our divers visited the wreck with the ministry’s permission to check the damages and take videos and photos. That much damage to the wheelhouse’s wings could have only been caused by anchors. On top of that, we also found a great number of fishing lines,” said Sendi.

He declared that the wreck, lying approximately 37 metres underwater, had never sustained damages of this magnitude before.

Sendi said the dive team has already shared the information with the housing ministry, which will in turn make captains of the vessels in the area aware of the circumstances.

Bemoaning the damages to a treasured site, the diver added that the culprits must be found and penalised.

“We must take every possible step to prevent such a thing from happening again,” he said, adding that there is a possibility of repairing the current damages.

The MV Victory had been carrying cargo when it ran aground on Hulhule’s reef in February 1981. The cargo ship was being towed to be floated when it had capsized enroute, landing upright on the seabed parallel to the reef. Over the years, the sunken ship has grown into a vibrant ecosystem of sponges, coral and fish, making the “Victory wreck” one of the hottest dive spots in the Maldives.

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