Turkey defuses mine after Russia warns of straying from Ukrainian ports


An oil tanker crosses the Bosphorus to the Black Sea in Istanbul July 20, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/

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RUMALIFENERI, Turkey, March 26 (Reuters) – The Turkish army on Saturday disabled a mine that had drifted from the Black Sea, triggering a loud explosion north of Istanbul, days after Russia warned that several of they had been carried away by the Ukrainian ports.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar described the object, first discovered by fishermen in the Upper Bosphorus Strait, as an ancient type of mine and said he was in contact with Russian and Ukrainian authorities at this subject.

A Reuters witness heard a loud bang off the coastal village of Rumelifeneri, where warships, military planes and helicopters were active. A minehunter vessel was also heading towards the area from Istanbul, according to a second Reuters witness.

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“The mine, determined to be of an old type, has been neutralized by our team… and naval forces are continuing their vigilance work,” Akar said in a televised statement.

Earlier the coast guard had warned ships to stay clear of the round object floating on the waves, and a dive team moved in first to investigate.

Turkey shares the Black Sea borders with Russia and Ukraine, which Moscow invaded last month. Read more

Russia’s main intelligence agency said on Monday that several mines had drifted out to sea after severing cables near Ukrainian ports, a claim dismissed by kyiv as disinformation and an attempt to shut off parts of the sea. Read more

The Black Sea is a major maritime artery for grain, oil and petroleum products. It is connected to the Sea of ​​Marmara and then to the Mediterranean Sea via the Bosphorus which crosses the heart of Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey with 16 million inhabitants.

Fishermen first spotted the object near a mooring area and reported it to the coast guard, who sent radio warnings to vessels in the area, the Coastal Safety Directorate told Reuters.

(This story refiles to correct spelling of Hulusi)

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Additional reporting by Umit Ozdal and Jonathan Spicer; Written by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Christina Fincher

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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