Sweden blocks off Nord Stream area to investigate 'aggravated sabotage'

Swedish prosecutors have blocked access to within 9.26 kilometres of the pipeline in the Baltic Sea

One of four gas leaks at one of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea on September 29. AFP
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Sweden has blocked off the area around the Nord Stream pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea while the suspected sabotage is investigated, prosecutors said on Monday.

The prosecutor in charge decided to further look into the “aggravated sabotage,” and it became necessary “to block off the area in order to do a crime scene investigation”, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

“The investigation continues, we are at an intensive stage,” public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said.

“I understand the considerable public interest, but we are in the early stages of a preliminary investigation and I can therefore not comment on details about which investigatory measures we are taking.”

Sweden's coastguard announced that it had started enforcing the prosecutor's decision to ban access to within five nautical miles (9.26 kilometres) of the pipeline on Monday.

“The prohibition means a ban on driving ships, anchoring, diving, fishing, driving underwater vehicles or carrying out geophysical mapping,” the coastguard said.

All of the four leaks, which were discovered on Monday last week, are in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish zone.

The Swedish coastguard also said it could no longer observe gas from the leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, but bubbles from a smaller leak could still be seen above Nord Stream 2 on Monday afternoon.

Video shows Nord Stream gas leak bubbling in Baltic Sea — video

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of tension as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against western sanctions after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines are not in operation, they contained gas before they fell victim to apparent sabotage.

Washington and Moscow have denied responsibility for the leaks.

Fourth leak reported on Nord Stream pipelines — video

Updated: October 04, 2022, 5:59 AM
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