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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Sweden to save 'sinking' town
The town of Kiruna in remote northern Sweden is seeking a new home before the earth swallows it up.

Iron ore mines under the town are making it sink

Its centre is in danger of sliding down a hole left by the iron ore mines which put this Arctic outpost on the map a century ago.

Kiruna's railway station and its new highway will be relocated first, officials told BBC News Online.

But Karl Wikstrom, a spokesman for the state-owned LKAB iron ore company, said the town's inhabitants faced no immediate threat from the hole carved out by mines more than a kilometre under their feet.

The relocation of the city's centre would happen gradually over the next decade, he said.

Most houses in the affected area will be loaded onto large trailers and driven to a new location nearby.

Moving the city hall, however, may require more effort.

"We have to cut it into six pieces. And then we find somewhere to put it for another 100 years," Mr Wikstrom said.

A similar solution may have to be devised for the town's wooden church that dates back to 1913.

Nazi connection

Most people in Kiruna seem unperturbed by the plan.

"Yes, they have to move the town a little bit," Lena Johansson from the local tourist office said.

But, she said, the town owes its existence to the mines, so its residents are happy to move house to keep the industry alive.

LKAB says it directly employs some 1,800 of the town's 24,000 inhabitants.

During World War II, iron ore from the mines was exported to Nazi Germany.

Mr Wikstrom says the company made sure Hitler's Germany only received low-grade ore.

A new location for the town's centre has yet to be found.

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