island of Tongatapu

Shipwreck found in Tonga may have gold

Gold ingot


Police have found a shipwreck in Tonga after large numbers of people started turning up at dentists wanting to melt down gold items.

The ship is a mystery but four men have been charged with removing items from a wreck and not reporting it.

One of those four is navigator Tuakalau Loufau, who along with three others, has been charged with finding a shipwreck and taking items from it.

The police were tipped off about the mystery shipwreck off the main island of Tongatapu, when people started turning up to dental surgeries wanting to melt down what appeared to be gold.

"From last year to this year many people were coming in with it&the end of each side it's like gold there because it's shiny where they cut it," dental surgery assistant Teisi Taimani said.

The gold-like tubes measured up to 12 centimetres.

"When they came in we can't do anything with it. It's too big, we told them we cant do anything," says Taimani.

But when the police heard - they did do something, issuing five search warrants.

"Shipwrecks within the territorial waters are government property and so you're required when you find one to notify authorities and not to remove any items from that wreck," says Tongan Police Commander Chris Kelley.