Divers find ancient wreck in lake Baikal

Divers find ancient wreck in lake Baikal

Tue, 16/09/2008 - 19:42

Divers in Irkutsk have discovered an ancient ship that sank over 100 years ago on the bottom of Siberia's Lake Baikal. The ship, thought to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century, was found in the southern part of the lake at the depth of around 30 meters.

Shaman rock, lake Baikal
Shaman rock, lake Baikal

The vessel's hull, constructed without iron nails, is 16 m (52 feet) long, 5 m (16 feet) wide and 4 m (13 feet) deep. There is a hole in the right side of the hull and divers believe the ship sank during a storm.

They also discovered suspected human remains.

The expedition to the depths of the world's deepest and oldest lake was organized to search for historic artefacts linked with the Krugobaikal Railway, which saw numerous train crashes in the 19th century.

"We knew that this was the site of many train crashes and launched [the expedition] for this reason. As a result of the search, we ran across the sunken ship," Andrei Bobkov, a member of the diving team said, adding that the discovery was a complete surprise.

Bobkov said the team was also planning to make new dives to examine the ship and unearth the mystery of the shipwreck. However, the divers do not plan to recover the vessel which appears to be in a quite fragile state.

The two Russian Mir-1 and Mir-2 deep-sea submersibles performed a series of 52 dives into the lake, including last week when they searched the lakebed for sacks of gold taken from the Imperial Russian reserves by the White Army's Admiral Alexander Kolchak when fleeing from the Bolsheviks in the winter of 1919-1920.

Some of the White Army officers reputedly froze on the ice as temperatures dropped to 60 degrees Celsius below zero, and the gold is thought to have sunk when the spring thaw came. However, no treasure, except boxes containing ammunition dating back to the 1920s, was discovered.