Finnish investigators say they have evidence that the anchor of a Chinese container ship was responsible for damaging a Baltic Sea gas pipeline earlier this month.
Police previously said the October 8 rupture to the subsea Balticconnector pipeline, as well as two telecoms cables, was caused by external mechanical force and were investigating whether this was a case of sabotage or caused by accident.
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On Tuesday, Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said they had now retrieved a lost anchor from the seabed location and its data pointed to the Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel Newnew Polar Bear as the culprit.
“There are traces in the [anchor] which indicate that it has been in contact with the gas pipeline,” Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi, NBI’s head of the investigation, told reporters.
Finnish investigators said they have tried contacting the ship’s captain to no avail and are now cooperating with Chinese officials on the case.
China is willing to provide all necessary information on the case, in accordance with international law, the Chinese foreign ministry stated on Wednesday.
Whether the pipeline damage was intentional, unintentional or caused by “bad seafaring” is the subject of the next phase in the probe, officials said.
Beijing has denied any role in the incident and called for an “objective, fair and professional” investigation.
The incident caused the 77-kilometre (48-mile)-long Balticconnector pipeline that runs between the Finnish coastal town of Inkoo and the Estonian port of Paldiski to shift from its original position where it is buried in the seabed, with damages amounting up to 300 million euros ($318m), according to the latest assessments.