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Malaysian authorities believe the vessel had targeted the HMS REPULSE and the HMS PRINCE OF WALES - ships that were sunk in 1941 during the Second World War in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour.

A Chinese-registered vessel has been detained in Malaysia, on suspicion of looting the wreckage of Second World War- era British warships in the South China Sea.Malaysia's maritime agency said a cannon shell had been found on-board the carrier ship.Local media reported illegal salvage operators are believed to have targeted the HMS REPULSE and the HMS PRINCE OF WALES- both of which were sunk in 1941 by Japanese torpedoes.

More than 840 sailors died in the attacks, with the shipwrecks designated as war graves.The authorities were alerted last month, when fishermen and divers spotted a foreign vessel in the area, and detained the ship, which is registered in Fuzhou, China, on Sunday, for anchoring without a permit.

According to the Malaysian maritime agency, 32 crew members were on board - 21 from China, 10 from Bangladesh and one from Malaysia.Officials from the National Heritage Department are now working to identify the cannon shell, which is believed to be linked to the police seizure of dozens of unexploded artillery at a private scrapyard in Johor, in southern Malaysia.

Source : Skynews