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British explorer sets out on treasure hunt

Aug. 5, 2012 at 6:17 PM

LIMA, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A British fortune hunter is heading to a Pacific island in search of more than $250 million worth of treasure supposedly buried there by 19th century pirates.

Shaun Whitehead is leading an expedition to Cocos Island in hopes of discovering treasure allegedly buried there by a British trader, Capt. William Thompson, in 1820, The Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.

The British newspaper said as the story goes, Thompson stole gold, silver and jewelry amassed by Spanish authorities in Lima, Peru, that he was entrusted to transport to Mexico. Thompson and his crew allegedly killed Spanish sailors on their ship and headed for Cocos Island, off the coast of Costa Rica, to bury their loot, which included 113 gold religious statues, 200 chests of jewels, 273 swords with jeweled hilts, 1,000 diamonds, solid gold crowns, 150 chalices, and hundreds of gold and silver bars.

Whitehead and a team of about 15 will scour the island over the 10-day expedition using non-invasive technology not used in previous expeditions to the island.

"This is a scientific survey, including archaeological, geological and biodiversity aspects," Whitehead said. "Unlike previous trips, we are not going to dig vast holes or do anything destructive at all. The real treasure of the island is its natural beauty. Anything else we find there is simply a bonus."

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