Foreigners caught for allegedly stealing relics from warships near Tioman

No diving equipment: Nikmat showing the stimulant used by the foreigners to stay longer under water.

KUANTAN: A royal navy vessel and 12 foreign treasure hunters in two fishing trawlers were involved in a sea chase recently.

The chase ended after six verbal warnings and two shots fired in the air.

All the suspects, aged between 15 and 47, from Vietnam and Thailand were caught.

A host of copper items were found hidden in one of the trawlers.

RMN vessel KD Pahang commander Nikmat Azhar Mahmud said the items were salvaged from under the seas by the foreign fishermen.

Nikmat said the items were believed to be from two sunken British warships HMS Repulse and HMS Prince Of Wales of the World War II era.

“They were in two trawlers about 55 nautical miles from Sungai Pahang river mouth near Tioman Island.

“But we found no fishing equipments or fish.

“They also have no valid documents and will be investigated for suspected theft of national relics,” he told a press conference here.

Nikmat said checks showed one of the trawlers was owned by a local and had a fishing permit.

He said to hide its illegal activities, the trawlers even put up national and state flags.

“No proper diving equipments were used.

“A kind of stimulant was injected into their chest to help them stay longer under water,” he said.

Nikmat said it was the first success this year and the navy would continue to patrol the seas to prevent such thefts.

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