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Danish submarine owner arrested over missing journalist

A Danish submarine owner has been charged over the death of a Swedish female journalist who had been on board his vessel before it sank.

Peter Madsen, 46, denies wrongdoing, saying he had dropped the woman off in Copenhagen before the sinking.

The reporter’s partner raised the alarm in the early hours of Friday when she did not return from what was supposed to be a short journey on the vessel.

It was later spotted but sank on Friday morning and Mr Madsen was rescued. There was no trace of the woman, however, and police launched a search. She has still not been found. The missing woman has been identified as Kim Wall, a 30-year-old New York-based freelance journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Guardian and Vice Magazine.

In a statement to Swedish paper Aftonbladet, Ms Wall’s family said: “It is with great dismay we received the message that Kim is missing. We believe and sincerely hope she will be found save and well. Her friends and family have been posting widely on social media asking for her whereabouts.

The authorities have not yet been able to access the vessel, known as the Nautilus, which lies on the seabed in Koge Bay, south of Copenhagen. Salvage teams are at the site.

According to the Copenhagen Post, a search of the vessel is likely to be carried out once it has been towed to port later on Saturday.

Danish police would not comment on why charges had been brought before a body had been found, but said they would offer another update later on Saturday after Mr Madsen appears in court. Police are hunting for witnesses and camera footage to determine whether the missing woman had disembarked after setting off.

Footage aired by Denmark’s TV2 shows Mr Madsen getting out of what appeared to be a private boat, giving reporters a thumbs-up sign, saying: “I am fine, but sad because Nautilus went down.”

He later told a reporter: “I was out on a rehearsal trip, tinkering with different things in the submarine. Then a defect happened with a ballast tank which wasn’t that serious – until I tried to repair it – then it suddenly became very serious.”

“After that it took 30 seconds for Nautilus to sink. I couldn’t close the catch or anything. But that might be ok, as I would still be down there then.” Ms Wall had been writing about Mr Madsen and his submarine, which at one stage was the largest privately-made vessel of its kind.

Mr Madsen made headlines in 2008 when he built the 17-metre long home-made submarine by using online crowd-funding.

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