December 21, 2011
Around 160 tonnes of explosives and 69 surface-to-air missiles have been found by Finnish officials on a cargo ship bearing a British flag and ultimately destined for China, authorities say. They said they did not know the origin of the Patriot missiles or who was supposed to receive them.
The Thor Liberty sailed from the north German port of Emden on 13 December and two days later docked in Kotka, southern Finland, to pick up a cargo of anchor chains, officials said. Its final destination was Shanghai, but it was not clear whether that was where the arms shipment was going, officials said.
Detective Superintendent Timo Virtanen of the National Bureau of Investigation said dock workers found massive amounts of picric acid – an explosive – and the missiles as they were loading the chains and alerted inspectors.
Some of the explosives were not stored properly, the customs spokesman Petri Lounatmaa said, adding that an investigation was launched into a possible breach of Finnish export and weapons trading laws and that the cargo would be impounded if determined to be illegal.