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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Mines and hand grenades washed ashore
Saltburn Pier
Royal Navy divers closed the pier at Saltburn
There are fears that a World War I ship carrying a cargo of wartime ammunition could lie off the coast of east Cleveland.

Every week British-made hand grenades and mines are swept ashore.

Royal Navy divers have already carried out a controlled explosion on the seafront at Saltburn after an unexploded bombshell was discovered.

The leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, David Walsh said: "I am concerned we may well have a ship, which carried munitions down the coast in World War I and which may have been torpedoed or sunk, that is breaking up and losing its cargo.

Changing tides may have made them pop up to the surface

Paul Castle, foreshore manager

"None of the stuff washed up is ticking, but all it takes is a kid to hit it with a hammer for it to go off."

Mr Walsh has written to the Ministry of Defence asking for an underwater survey of the coastline to find the source of the debris.

The pier and seafront at the Victorian seaside town of Saltburn had to be evacuated for the controlled explosion.

Nearby Tees Port is one of the busiest shipping docks in Britain and there are fears that vessels may come to grief if they come in contact with one of the shells.

Coastal wrecks

An official survey carried out three years ago discovered 97 wrecks off the coast between Easington and Newbiggin in Northumberland.

Millions of tons of defunct munitions were dumped in deep holes on the sea bed off the North East coast after World War II.

Redcar and Cleveland Council's foreshore manager Paul Castle said: "There were millions of tons of explosives shipped out 10 or 15 miles offshore and dumped in these huge big holes in the sea bed.

"Changing tides may have made them pop up to the surface.

"It is not a matter of national security, but if people do come across these munitions on the beach they can phone 999 or call the coastguard.

See also:

11 Sep 01 | UK
Divers sent to help warship
19 Jul 01 | Europe
No live weapons found on Kursk
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