Explosions in September destroyed at least 50 metres of Nord Stream pipeline, investigators show

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By Euronews  with AFP
the gas leak in the Baltic Sea from Nord Stream photographed from the Coast Guard's aircraft on 27 September 2022
the gas leak in the Baltic Sea from Nord Stream photographed from the Coast Guard's aircraft on 27 September 2022   -   Copyright  Swedish Coast Guard via AP

Underwater images showed at least 50 metres of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been destroyed or buried under the seafloor after explosions in late September, believed to be an act of sabotage.

Danish police meanwhile said their inspections of pipelines 1 and 2 in the Danish economic zone of the Baltic Sea confirmed the damage was "caused by powerful explosions".

In videos published by Expressen newspaper, a massive tear and twisted metal can be seen on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline 80 metres below the surface of the Baltic Sea.

Expressen said the videos, filmed on Monday, show how over 50 metres of the pipeline are either missing or buried, and long tears can be observed on the seabed leading up to the burst pipe.

"It is only an extreme force that can bend metal that thick in the way we are seeing," Trond Larsen, drone operator with the Norwegian company Blueye Robotics, told Expressen.

Larsen, who piloted the submersible drone capturing the video, also said you could see "a very large impact on the seabed around the pipe".

The explosions caused four leaks in the pipelines.

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone, and two of them were in Swedish waters.

Swedish authorities announced on 6 October that they had conducted an underwater inspection of the site and collected "pieces of evidence". The inspection backed up suspicions of probable sabotage.

Meanwhile, Danish police on Tuesday said they had completed several inspections of the leaks in the Danish zone, together with the intelligence service PET.

"The inspections have confirmed that there has been extensive damage to Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the Danish exclusive economic zone and that the damage was caused by powerful explosions," they said in a statement.

Danish police also said a joint investigation team would be set up with PET to continue the inquest, but it was too early to say what international cooperation would be possible with Sweden and Germany.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions over Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Although the pipelines were not in operation, they contained gas before falling victim to the apparent sabotage.