Narva River cleared of mines

  • 2002-05-23
  • Sergei Stepanov, NARVA
Rescue workers and scuba divers from the Aquanaut diving club recovered about 70 explosives this week from the area of the Narva River between the city of Narva and the resort town of Narva Joesuu.

The explosives were found as divers were cleaning the river bottom of garbage during an environmental protection operation. They discovered that bombs and other powerful explosives made up most of the garbage.

The Narva city property department contracted the Aqua-naut club to clean the river bottom from April 18 to Nov. 30, and allocated 99,000 kroons ($5,800) for this purpose.

They found anti-tank mines, 120 millimeter mortar shells and gre-nade detonator fuses, all of which are a heritage of World War II.

Ain Pettai, commander of the bomb unit of the Estonian Defense Forces, said there is plenty of such material at the bottom of Narva River.

"We are going to cooperate with the Narva diving club Aqua-naut. They will discover the explosives, and we will take them out and destroy them," said Pettai.

According to the rescue squad experts, the old explosives do not affect the navigation on Narva River, but there is no guarantee an isolated bomb will not explode occasionally.

The diving club members stated they had also found a T-34 light tank used by the Red Army in World War II and an unidentified plane in the river. They said they would be ready to take them out when they receive the necessary funds.

During World War II, the Narva region saw some brutal engagements between the Nazis and the Soviets. However, there are plenty of other hotspots in Estonia full of unused old ammunition, including some not far from Tallinn.

About 700 old explosives were found and destroyed in Estonia from January 2002 until the beginning of May. From the early 90s until now, the Estonian bomb squad has found and destroyed about 30,000 World War II explosives.