By Abigail Wilkinson - The Santiago Times
More than nine and one half tons of gold and silver that were lost aboard the Chilean trawler "Polar Mist" when it sank Strait of Magellan have been located in the sunken ship’s cargo hold.
The discovery puts to rest speculation that the US$16.5 million cargo was not aboard the boat (ST April 23) and that the cargo had been “invented” as part of an insurance-scam attempt.
The Polar Mist regularly carried similar cargo through the Strait of Magellan to Punta Arenas (Region XII) en route to Swiss refineries.
The cargo was finally pinpointed by a submarine robot, following days of delay due to adverse weather conditions. The remote-controlled robot managed to enter the hold and make video recordings of the gold and silver.
No one knows what kind of technology the insurer-funded rescue team will use to recover the precious metals.
Owners Cerro Vanguardia and Triton (mining companies extracting gold and silver in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina) had demanded that the London insurers Lloyd’s pay for the sunken ship’s lost treasure. But Lloyd’s hired the Dutch company Mammoet to attempt a rescue.
The sunken ship’s crew abandoned their boat when it ran into a fierce storm upon entering the Magellan Strait on January 15.
The men were later rescued by a helicopter belonging to the Argentine coastal authorities.
The Polar Mist was later being towed to shore when it sank in mysterious circumstances on January 18.
The vessel now lies in 80 meters of water on a sea shelf some 40 kms to the east of Cabo Vírgenes.
Rumors that the cargo had been located began circulating last Monday afternoon and the find was confirmed by the rescuers that evening with the statement: “Phases one and two of the rescue mission have been successfully completed.”
The team aims to recover the cargo during July without re-floating the vessel.