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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Little Mermaid's unexpected swim
Little Mermaid
Little Mermaid looks out across Copenhagen harbour
One of Denmark's most famous landmarks - the bronze sculpture of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid - has been knocked off her perch by vandals.

The statue was toppled from its base at the entrance to Copenhagen's harbour and found floating in the water.

Police say the vandals used explosives to loosen her from the rock and officers are now trying to track down the culprits.

The 90-year-old statue has been subjected to repeated vandalism - she has been beheaded twice, lost an arm and had paint poured over her six times.

"Our technicians have established that some kind of explosive has been used," said police spokesman Superintendent Henning Schou Kofoed.

"The hole in the knee looks like the explosive has been used from the inside".

Wistful

The statue was found by police shortly before 3am (0100 GMT) on Thursday and local witnesses reported hearing an explosion an hour earlier.

Police examine damage to the Little Mermaid
Police are determining the extent of the damage
Investigators found a wide hole in her knee and a smaller one in her wrist. There were also traces of a metal bar possibly used to loosen her from the rock.

A crane was used to pull the 1.6 metre (5.5 ft) statue from the water.

The statue is based on Hans Christian Andersen's 1837 tale of mermaid who falls in love with a human prince and has to wait 300 years before she can become a person.

Danish sculptor Edward Eriksen was commissioned to produce the statue to sit on a granite stone at Langelinie Pier, wistfully looking for her prince.

It was presented to the City of Copenhagen in 1913 and since then has drawn more than one million visitors a year.




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