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American explorer says he's discovered site of legendary Atlantis near Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - An Iranian-American architect who claims to have discovered the site of Atlantis says he now has additional evidence that the legendary city sank beneath the waves between Cyprus and Syria.

Robert Sarmast, who first said he had found Atlantis in November, told reporters that enhanced side-scan sonar images of the east Mediterranean seabed showed the "unmistakable remains of man-made structures at a depth of 1.5 kilometres, 80 kilometres from the southeastern corner of Cyprus."

Sarmast showed a news conference Thursday colour slides of what he said were the ruins of the Atlantis acropolis, surrounded by the remains of a defensive wall that runs for three kilometres before turning a right angle and continuing for an equal distance.

"The new images will silence any remaining skepticism that modern Cyprus is what remains of a much larger and now partly sunken land mass, a land mass that fits Plato's description of Atlantis perfectly," said Sarmast, referring to the ancient Greek philosopher.

"There is not one scientist in the world who can explain these formations as natural ones," said Sarmast, who is based in Los Angeles.

Sarmast said he based his search for Atlantis on the writings of Plato. Plato had referred to other ancient writers who claimed Atlantis, a fabulously rich city-state, was swallowed by the sea after a huge earthquake about 9,000 BCE.

Sarmast said he planned a more detailed expedition next year in which a $5 million US documentary film would be produced in association with the Total Media Group of Los Angeles.

He said he was announcing his discovery in Cyprus because he is backed by the government's Tourist Organization.

"I am dedicated to making the discovery part of something that will benefit Cyprus for decades," he said.

Theories about Atlantis have placed the city in various parts of the world ranging from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Greek island of Santorini - which was partly submerged in an earthquake thousands of years ago, and even as far as the South China Sea.

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