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Amazing viral photo of an 'underwater tank graveyard' off Donegal: the story behind it

Here’s how the tanks got there.

THIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS tweeted by the popular @abandonedpics Twitter account this morning, to its 600,000 followers.

It shows a huge pile of WW2-era Sherman tanks littering the seabed, many upside down as if dropped from a height.

At the time of writing, the photograph has been retweeted more than 200 times in just a couple of hours.

So what’s the story? Well, the image is actually a screencap from this dive video, shot in 2010 by diver Rich Stevenson.

Rich Stevenson / Vimeo

The vehicles – which lie on the seabed just 20 metres from Malin Head in Donegal, at a depth of 65 metres or so – have been there since September 8, 1944.

On that day the SS Empire Heritage, a cargo ship carrying oil, US-made Sherman tanks and half-tracks, was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Some 113 people were killed in the disaster.

As it sunk – too quickly even to issue a distress call, according to this account – some of its cargo tumbled out onto the seabed, where it remains.

The loss of life was worsened by the fact that the rescue ship, the Pinto, was also torpedoed as it attempted to pick up survivors. It sank in just 90 seconds.

Here’s an even more eerie video:

Onno Kok / YouTube

More: Moves to protect 111-year-old shipwreck washed up by storm on Kerry beach>

Related: Stunning photos capture wreck of Tall Ship Astrid at dawn>

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