A four-year search of the depths of the Indian Ocean has failed to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. But the unprecedented sonar hunt for the missing airliner might be close to solving 19th-century mysteries—the locations of two sailing ships that vanished with cargoes of coal, reports the AP. Maritime historians on Thursday published a short list of the possible identities of two shipwrecks found in 2015. They're 22 miles apart and 1,440 miles southwest of Australia in debris fields scattered with coal more than 2.3 miles below the ocean's surface. The searchers had a closer look with underwater drones that took photographs of both sites and retrieved a coal sample from one. Analysis showed the coal was probably from Britain, a Western Australian Museum report said.
The museum's examination of the images of the scattered remnants of a wooden ship discovered on May 19, 2015, found it was possibly the brig W. Gordon or the barque Magdala. W. Gordon was on a voyage from Scotland to Australia when it disappeared in 1877 with 10 crew aboard; Magdala was lost in 1882 while sailing from Wales to Indonesia. An iron wreck found on Dec. 19, 2015, was most likely the barque West Ridge, which vanished while sailing from England to India with 28 sailors in 1883. The museum's curator of maritime archaeology, Ross Anderson, said he doubted that the identities would ever be confirmed without a wealthy private benefactor because of their depth and remoteness. "These are the deepest wrecks so far located in the Indian Ocean," he said. The AP has much more here.