Turkey orders probe over Noah’s Ark

Ankara, April 30: Turkey’s culture minister has ordered a probe into how pieces of wood, claimed to be remains of Noah’s Ark, were taken from Turkey to China by evangelicals, media reports said Friday.

“How did these objects get there?… I am having this investigated,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay said in remarks published in the Milliyet newspaper.

A team of Chinese evangelicals reportedly displayed the wooden pieces at a recent press conference in Hong Kong, claiming they took them from Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey.

“It’s not 100 percent that it is Noah’s Ark but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it,” Yeung Wing-cheung, a Hong Kong documentary film-maker and member of the 15-strong team from Noah’s Ark Ministries International said on Monday.

The team said they took wooden specimens from a structure that carbon dating proved was 4,800 years old, around the same time the ark is said to have been afloat.

The Turkish minister stressed he supported research on Noah’s Ark in Turkey, hailing it as a “bonus” for the country’s tourism sector, according to Milliyet.

The story of Noah’s Ark says God decided to flood the earth after seeing how corrupt it had become, and told Noah to build an ark and fill it with two of every animal species.

After the flood waters receded, the story goes, the ark came to rest on a mountain. Many believe that Mount Ararat, the highest point in the region, is where the ark and its inhabitants came aground.

Gunay also said the inquiry aimed to shed light on the presence of Turkish officials at the press conference in Hong Kong, without Ankara’s permission.