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An Egyptian scientist works on restoring a piece of the second Khufu boat at a temporary laboratory set up next to the Great Pyramids where it was discovered, in Giza, Egypt March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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CAIRO (Reuters) - A plank of wood believed to be from the boat of an ancient Egyptian king has been unearthed near the Great Pyramid at Giza, archaeologists said on Wednesday.

The boat, which is the second such vessel to be found on the site, was believed to have been built for King Khufu who ruled Egypt during the fourth dynasty more than 4,500 years ago.

First discovered in the 1980s, experts say they have so far uncovered 700 pieces of the boat from the site and now believe that they have unearthed most of its pieces.

"We are celebrating the extraction of the largest plank of wood," said the project's main supervisor Mamdouh Taha, adding it measures 26 metres (85 feet) long.

Archaeologists and conservation experts extracted the piece from a pit nearly three-meters underground and moved it to a conservation centre located next to the discovery site.

Egyptian and Japanese archaeologists are working on the project with an aim to restore all the boat's pieces and display them in the Grand Egyptian Museum when it opens next year.

Egypt hopes ongoing archaeological discoveries can boost its ailing tourism industry, a critical source of hard currency which has suffered in the aftermath of mass protests that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt stood at 9.3 million in 2015, compared to more than 14.7 million in 2010, but the country's tourism minister expressed hope earlier this month that numbers could return to levels experienced before the uprising.

(Reporting By Reuters Television; Editing by Julia Glover)

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