SEOUL: A South Korean salvage team has reportedly found the wreckage of a Russian warship that is believed to contain about US$130 billion in gold.
According to a report by the Telegraph, the warship that sunk in a naval battle 113 years ago is said to contain a trove of gold bullion and coins.
The South Korean firm, Shinil Group, said that it had found the Dimitrii Donskoi near the island of Ulleungdo.
The team comprised experts from South Korea, Britain and Canada who discovered the wreck on Sunday (Jul 15) using two manned submersibles to capture footage of the vessel, said the Telegraph.
The video showed extensive damage on the vessel caused by an encounter with Japanese warships in May 1905, said the Telegraph.
The footage also showed cannons and deck guns encrusted with marine growth, the anchor and the ship’s wheel.
"The body of the ship was severely damaged by shelling, with its stern almost broken, and yet the ship’s deck and sides are well preserved," said Shinil Group in a statement.
The Dmitrii Donskoi was designed as a commerce raider and was part of the 1904 Russo-Japanese War. The ship mostly spent its time at sea operating in the Mediterranean and the Far East.
According to the BBC, some experts doubt the possibility that the ship carried gold, questioning why a warship would carry such valuable cargo.
Doubts have also been raised about the company after a South Korean news website, Chosun Biz, claimed that the Shinil Group was only founded in June, even though the company said it is the successor company to Shinil Corporation that formed in 1957, said the BBC.
The BBC also added that the company had reportedly only been formed with US$88,000.
Nevertheless, the company behind the discovery has promised to use part of the money to fund the construction of a railway line linking Russia and South Korea through North Korea, said the Telegraph.
The Telegraph added that half of the treasure found will be handed to the Russian government, while 10 per cent of the remainder will go towards tourism investment in the Ulleungdo island.
A portion of the treasure will be donated to joint projects to promote development in north-east Asia.