Two Dutch Second World War shipwrecks have disappeared from Malaysian waters, months after the two countries agreed to step up efforts to protect war graves.
The two submarines are suspected to have been recovered illegally for their scrap metal value. Debris from one was found on the sea bed, while at the other site only the imprint of the wreck was visible.
‘This news has hit us very hard,’ said defence minister Ank Bijleveld. ‘These shipwreck locations are the last resting places of those who served on them and are a place of remembrance. The relatives have been informed.
‘Out of respect for the survivors a commemoration has been held at both sites by members of the expedition.’
Last year foreign affairs minister Stef Blok signed a deal with his Indonesian counterpart to locate and protect vulnerable wrecks in the Java Sea, after it emerged that three sunken ships had disappeared.