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Treasure hunters eye huge silver haul from WWII ship

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MIAMI — When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 kilometers) off the Irish coast.

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That’s worth about $200 million today, which would make it history’s largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said.

“We’ve accomplished the first phase of this project — the location and identification of the target shipwreck — and now we’re hard at work planning for the recovery phase,” Odyssey senior project manager Andrew Craig said in a statement.

“Given the orientation and condition of the shipwreck, we are extremely confident that our planned salvage operation will be well suited for the recovery of this silver cargo.”

Recovery is expected to begin next spring.

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After a tender process the British government awarded Odyssey an exclusive salvage contract for the cargo, and under the agreement Odyssey will retain 80 percent of the silver bullion salvaged from the wreck.

The 412-foot (125-meter) Gairsoppa had been sailing from India back to Britain in February 1941, and was in a convoy of ships when a storm hit. Running low on fuel, the Gairsoppa broke off from the convoy and set a course for Galway, Ireland.

It never made it, succumbing to a U-boat’s torpedo in the contested waters of the North Atlantic. Of the 85 people on board, only one survived.

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The Gairsoppa came to rest nearly 15,400 feet (4,700 meters) below the surface, but Odyssey is insisting that won’t prevent a full cargo recovery.

“We were fortunate to find the shipwreck sitting upright, with the holds open and easily accessible,” Odyssey chief executive Greg Stemm said.

“This should enable us to unload cargo through the hatches as would happen with a floating ship alongside a cargo terminal.”

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Odyssey, a world leader in deep-ocean exploration, recently conducted remotely operated vehicles from its main ship, the Odyssey Explorer, to inspect the shipwreck. It said it acquired still and video imagery from the site which were used to confirm the identify and evaluate the condition of the Gairsoppa.


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New ‘Lord of the Rings’ show to start filming in New Zealand`

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US-based streaming giant Amazon announced Wednesday its big-budget "Lord of the Rings" series will within months start filming in New Zealand, home to Peter Jackson's movies of the fantasy epic.

Amazon is reportedly spending US$1 billion-plus on the series as it seeks to emulate the runaway success enjoyed by "Games of Thrones".

Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay said the South Pacific nation offered the "primordial beauty" of Middle Earth, the setting for J.R.R. Tolkien's tales of elves, dwarf and hobbits.

"We needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople," they said in a statement.

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Air Force admits it ‘would’t be surprised’ if they were ‘Trump Turnberry’s largest customer’

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The Air Force has not only been staying at Trump's resorts for three years, but they were also likely the largest customer of Trump's Scottish golf club.

Washington Post reporters David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell outed President Donald Trump for working his official relationship with the Saudi royal family so they'd stay at his hotels. Politico reporter Natasha Bertrand uncovered the fact that the U.S. Air Force was being used to funnel cash to the president's companies.

Trump's Turnberry resort was losing money until he was able to reroute Air Force plans to land in Scotland to refuel instead of a military base. While that might cost American taxpayers significantly more money, it was good business for the president. Now the resort is doing extremely well.

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Human Rights Watch accuses Brazil’s Bolsonaro of giving a ‘green light’ to illegal loggers to destroy the Amazon

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Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro of giving a "green light" to illegal loggers to destroy the Amazon and failing to protect those defending the world's largest rain forest.

Bolsonaro, whose anti-environment rhetoric and policies have been widely blamed for a spike in fires and land clearing in the Amazon this year, has promised to open up the remote region to more development even as he faces growing international criticism.

Official figures show Amazon deforestation nearly doubled in the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018, to 6,404 square kilometers (2,472 square miles) -- more than twice the size of Luxembourg.

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