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Explorers find infamous pirate Captain Kidd's treasure in Madagascar

Manjakahery Tsiresena, AFP | The silver ingot found off the coast of Madagascar was the heaviest ever found on the seabed

Underwater explorers said on Thursday they had discovered silver treasure belonging to the notorious 17th century Scottish pirate Captain William Kidd from a shipwreck off the coast of Madagascar.

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Explorers from the United States came upon a silver ingot, which, at a hefty 50 kilograms, is the largest such find in the sea.

“I spent three or four days in this area working just trying to understand the pit, trying to take pictures, trying to make some drawings but the visibility was very bad,” said marine archaeologist Barry Clifford, who made the discovery.

“So, what happened was, that it caved in on me and the metal bar hit me on the head," he said with a laugh.

The ingot was discovered at barely eight metres deep near Sainte Marie, also known as Pirate Island, which was used as a hideout by pirates in the 17th century. Thirteen shipwrecks have been found around there, making it the largest pirate ship cemetery in the world.

The find is believed to belong to Captain Kidd, a pirate who used to terrorize French and English sailors more than 300 years ago.

Born in Scotland around 1645, Captain Kidd was first employed by British authorities to hunt pirates before turning into a ruthless criminal of the high seas himself.

After looting a ship laden with valuable cargo in 1698, he was caught, imprisoned and questioned by the British parliament before being executed in Wapping, close to the River Thames, in 1701.

The fate of much of his booty, however, has remained a mystery, sparking intrigue and excitement for generations of treasure-hunters.

Now, Thursday’s discovery is set to become Madagascar state property and the island nation’s president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, vowed to preserve it properly.

“It's a great opportunity for Sainte Marie and for Madagascar because this will attract tourists here,” said Rajaonarimampianina.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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