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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Malta Finds No Surprises Aboard Arctic Sea

Maltese authorities have inspected the Arctic Sea cargo ship and found no radioactive material or dangerous chemicals, a newspaper reported Thursday.

“The Arctic Sea was clear; nothing abnormal was found,” an unidentified official told the Times of Malta.

Malta had demanded to examine the Maltese-flagged ship, which was seized by Russian investigators Aug. 17 after vanishing for three weeks, before allowing it to dock on the island nation.

The vessel reached Maltese waters Thursday. A new 14-member replacement crew has left Arkhangelsk and is expected to reach Malta on Friday to take over the ship.

The investigators lifted the arrest of the ship Wednesday.

The Arctic Sea and its crew of 15 Russian sailors vanished July 24 off the Swedish coast while carrying a cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria. The Navy announced the seizure of the ship and eight suspected hijackers Aug. 17 off the western African coast. The eight suspected hijackers are now under arrest in Moscow.

Russian authorities have denied speculation that the ship was carrying a secret cargo of missiles for Iran. Four crew members are still on board, while the rest have returned home to Arkhangelsk.