Mine discovery brings chaos to Gothenburg

Large parts of Gothenburg were cordoned off on Thursday morning after the captain of a fishing trawler found a World War II mine in his nets as he unloaded his haul in the city's harbour, police said.

“Military experts have told us that the mine is to be considered live ammunition,” Gothenburg police commissioner Geir Hogstad told AFP.

Police blocked off parts of the harbour and a residential and commercial area as well as a major roadway within a one-kilometre radius of the harbour due to the risk of explosion.

Experts from the Swedish navy’s bomb squad were en route from Stockholm to Gothenburg, on Sweden’s southwestern coast, to examine the contact mine.

“Either they will destroy it on site or take it out to sea to blow it up,” Hogstad said.

He said the trawler had been fishing in an area known to have old WWII mines.

“It’s not unusual for fishermen to pick up mines in their nets, but usually they know right away and dump them out at sea … It is unusual for them to bring them in and unload them in the harbour,” he said.

According to the first analysis, this one, which is one metre in diameter, appeared to be a British contact mine containing around 150 kilos of TNT. Large quantities of such mines were dropped in Swedish waters during the war.

“They sank anything that hit them,” said the navy press officer Jonas Hård.

Thousands of Gothenburg residents were facing transport problems as they attempted to get to work. A long stretch of the road along the Göta river was closed off and kilometre-long queues of cars were coming to a standstill.

The harbour traffic was also affected, with Stena Line’s Germany and Denmark terminals closed off. Two ferries, with a total of more than 500 passengers, were unable to dock in Gothenburg and instead were forced to wait at Trubaduren, south of Vinga.

No residents were moved out of their homes, however.

“I don’t know exactly how many live in the risk area but the emergency services and police say that there’s no need for an evacuation,” said Peter Lönn, the duty director at Gothenburg council.

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