By Leila Nezirevic
LONDON (AA) - Danish authorities confirmed Wednesday that more than half of the gas in the damaged Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines has escaped into the atmosphere.
The Danish Energy Board expects gas flow from the pipelines to end on Sunday.
"Half of the gas is out, and we expect the pipes to be emptied on Sunday," said Danish Energy Agency Director Kristoffer Bottzauw at a press conference.
The Swedish Armed Forces, Copenhagen Police and Danish Energy Board took part in the press conference held on the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines.
According to Bottzauw, “sabotage” is likely the reason behind the leaks.
"That is why we have increased preparedness in the energy sector to orange. It is the second highest level," he said.
At the same time, Flemming Larsen, managing director of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, underlined that several explosions occurred at the scene, broadcaster SVT Nyheter reported.
"It is our assessment that this is a conscious act," he said.
According to the Danish authorities, the gas emissions do not pose a health risk to residents, but the ongoing risks are being constantly assessed.
Sweden’s security service has launched an investigation into the unexplained explosions and leaks in the pipelines, labeling them “aggravated sabotage”
"The security police are taking over the investigation because it may be a serious crime that may at least partially be directed at Swedish interests," Swedish authorities said in a press release.
"Nor can it be excluded that a foreign power is behind it," it added.
Nord Stream 2’s operators were informed about a loss of pressure in the undersea pipeline Monday afternoon.
Danish authorities then warned ships against sailing within 5 nautical miles (9.25 kilometers) of the island of Bornholm.
On Tuesday, Nord Stream 1’s operators were informed that the pipeline had also sustained "unprecedented" damage and then it was concluded that the damage was due to undersea explosions.
Just as work finished and the Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline was ready to start transporting gas from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany, German authorities halted the project after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Russia halted gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which stretches 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast near St. Petersburg to northeastern Germany, following Germany's decision.