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Finnish Border Guard's photo of a Hong Kong registered cargo ship 'Newnew Polar Bear', which was spotted moving close to the Balticconnector gas line, during the joint press conference of the investigation of the possible attack on the Balticconnector gas line on 8th Oct., 2023 between Finland and Estonia at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation in Vantaa, Finland, 24 October 2023. Lehtikuva/HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA via REUTERS

Finnish Border Guard's photo of a Hong Kong registered cargo ship 'Newnew Polar Bear', which was spotted moving close to the Balticconnector gas line, during the joint press conference of the investigation of the possible attack on the Balticconnector gas line on 8th Oct., 2023 between Finland and Estonia at the headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation in Vantaa, Finland, 24 October 2023. Lehtikuva/HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA via REUTERS

Estonia’s Investigation Into Underwater Cable Damage Focusses on Chinese Ship

Reuters
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October 25, 2023
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VILNIUS, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Estonia’s investigation into a damaged Baltic Sea telecoms cable will focus on the actions of a Chinese-owned vessel, the country’s prosecutor general said, after Finland blamed damage to a nearby pipeline on a ship.

Early on Oct. 8, a gas pipeline and a telecoms cable connecting Finland and Estonia under the Baltic Sea were broken. Another telecoms cable, between Sweden and Estonia, was also damaged that night.

Finnish investigators said on Tuesday that they had found a large anchor near the pipeline, which they believe was broken as a ship dragged the anchor along the seabed.

They named the Chinese-owned and Hong-Kong-flagged container carrier NewNew Polar Bear as the prime suspect.

Helsinki is investigating the pipeline incident, while Tallinn is looking into the cables incidents.

The spokesperson for Estonia’s general prosecutor said the investigation into the damage to the Estonia-Finland cable is moving its focus to the same vessel, despite the cable being located “somewhat further” from the pipeline.

“The aim of the investigation is still to determine whether the vessel is responsible for damaging the telecommunications cables or not, and whether the damage was caused intentionally or by accident,” he added.

Reuters reported that two vessels, NewNew Polar Bear and Russia-flagged Sevmorput, were present at all three sites around the time of the damage, according to data from MarineTraffic, a ship-tracking and maritime analytics provider.

“I hope we will receive the necessary support from China to make constructive contact with the crew and owners of the ship,” Estonia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Margus Tsahkna said on Tuesday.

On Monday, China called for an “objective, fair and professional” investigation into the gas pipeline damage.

“It is understood that the Chinese vessel was normal in the relevant waters at the time of the incident, and no abnormalities were found due to the poor sea conditions at that time,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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