Diver looting WWII ship dies after chase

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Posted by on August 12, 2005 at 13:44:36:

A diver drowned and three others were missing Friday after they tried to flee a maritime patrol that caught them looting from a US ship sunk off the Philippines during World War II, an official said.

The patrol spotted two people before dawn Thursday diving from a small boat to scavenge scrap metal from the sunken USS New York off the former US naval base at northwestern Subic Bay, Subic deputy administrator Jose Calimlim said.

When approached, one of the looters attempted to escape by jumping into the water but was later found unconscious. He died before he could get to a hospital, Calimlim said. The second diver was arrested.

The patrol later discovered that there had been three other divers, who were missing, Calimlim said. A search for them had been ordered, he said.

Historical records show that the USS New York later renamed the Rochester was decommissioned in the Philippines in 1933 but was sunk by the Americans in 1941 to prevent it from being captured by invading Japanese forces. AFP

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