PEKAN: The authorities will have to quickly decide on what to do with the shipwreck in Paloh Hinai here before the river swallows it up again at the end of the dry season.
National Heritage Department senior museum assistant (Underwater Archaeology Section) Khairil Amri Abdul Ghani said as the wreck of SS Amherst was located right in the middle of the river, it might get submerged again should there be heavy rain.
“We have performed the first observation of the wreck. Right now, we need to come up with a report,” he said, adding that a discussion would have to be held on the next course of action with the state government and the Sultan Abu Bakar Museum.
“The top officials will then determine whether to order an archaelogical excavation at the site, salvage the wreck or raise this from the river.
“However, it is my opinion that a decision has to be made quickly or else, there is a risk that the wreck will be submerged again once the drought ends. Then, it will be difficult to reach it unless we do a dive,” he said in an interview.
The shipwreck emerged from its watery grave recently due to the drastic drop in the water level of Sungai Pahang from the dry spell due to the El Nino phenomenon.
Khairil Amri said from their observation, only the lower deck of the vessel remained.
“The bridge and the passenger cabins are gone. There are chains, which we think are still linked to the anchor but we may have to perform a dig of the riverbed to expose it,” he said.
State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin had said that should the wreck be found to have historical value, the state government would look into having it raised on to land to be exhibited.
“Perhaps we can also build a monument or even a replica of the ship like Afonso de Albuquerque's Flor de la Mar in Malacca,” he said.
On Friday, the site of the wreck at Kampung Tanjung in Paloh Hinai was still drawing curious onlookers.
Settler Ahmad Lokman Katib, 60, said his father had told him stories of a time when ships used to ply Sungai Pahang as there were no roads.
“I came to see the wreck because it is a part of history. There are no more ships along Sungai Pahang today but the wreck is proof that the river was once used as a major mode of transportation in our state.”