Sweden cordons Nord Stream leak area for investigations

STOCKHOLM, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Swedish Prosecution Authority said on Monday that an area around the Nord Stream leaks in the Swedish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Baltic Sea has been cordoned off in order to conduct a criminal investigation.

According to a press release from the Swedish Prosecution Authority on Monday, intensive investigations are underway among "several authorities in the matter."

Swedish Coast Guard on Monday started to enforce an exclusion zone around the Nord Stream pipelines that ruptured last week in the Swedish EEZ, where all forms of activities on and under the water are banned within five nautical miles, just over nine km, of the leak sites.

"It is within this area prohibited to navigate a vessel, anchor, dive, fish, navigate an underwater vessel or carry out geophysical mapping," Swedish Coast Guard said in a press release.

A Swedish Coast Guard vessel had already been in the area continuously since the leaks were discovered and the exclusion zone was announced after the Swedish Navy had earlier in the day deployed a rescue and diving vessel to the area.

Aerial photos taken by the coast guard on Monday of the two leaks in Sweden's EEZ showed that the smaller leak from Nord Stream 2 still covers an area approximately 15-20 meters in diameter.

Following the first reports of leaks a week ago, the Swedish Maritime Authority issued navigational warnings for the area. Air traffic in the immediate area was also diverted.

An analysis of the seismic activity in the area subsequently revealed patterns consistent with two blasts, one in the early hours of Monday, Oct. 26, and one in the evening.

The pipelines were built to transport gas from Russia to Germany and the Swedish government has said that the explosions were most likely set off deliberately but has so far refrained from speculating who may be behind them.

Also, in a joint letter to the United Nations Security Council, the governments of Sweden and Denmark said that the explosions were probably caused by hundreds of kilos of explosives, Danish TV2 reported on Friday.

"We take this situation very seriously, and the detonations must be viewed in the light of the security policy situation," Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a press conference on Sept. 28.

In a press release issued the same day, the Swedish Security Service said it had opened a criminal investigation into "gross sabotage."

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