French commandos storm the Rainbow Warrior
Protesters sail into nuclear-test exclusion zone
Saturday 02 September 1995
French naval commandos detained two Greenpeace ships yesterday near the French nuclear test site in the South Pacific and arrested two divers who had reached the test platform in Mururoa lagoon.
A group of 19 commandos stormed the Rainbow Warrior II after the French navy warned the Greenpeace vessel not to proceed any further into the 12-mile military exclusion zone around Mururoa. They used blow torches to cut into the barricaded wheelhouse, in a virtual repetition of the last French action against the vessel in July.
Commandos dropped from helicopters on to Rainbow Warrior's sister ship, Greenpeace, after a helicopter based on the vessel allegedly breached the zone. Nine inflatable dinghies launched by the two ships in an effort to disrupt France's planned series of underground nuclear tests were also seized. The French authorities said both vessels would be towed to an island more than 350 miles away, where all 56 people on board would be held for at least 48 hours.
Thomas Shultz, the nuclear campaigns co-ordinator for Greenpeace International, said in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, from where the Greenpeace vessels had sailed a fortnight ago: "The engines of Rainbow Warrior II have been stopped. She appears to be dead in the water.
Her crew of 16 have all been arrested except the skipper, John Castles, who has barricaded himself in the crow's nest and is maintaining contact with the Zodiacs [inflatable dinghies] by radio." Three Zodiacs entered the lagoon under darkness inside the coral atoll at Mururoa where the French are preparing to conduct the first of seven or eight underground nuclear tests.
He said: "Greenpeace has issued a warning to the French navy that we have divers in the water and that the tests should be stopped immediately."
Vice-Admiral Philippe Euvert, the French armed forces commander in the South Pacific, said: "Everyone has been held, and all the dinghies". He did not think Greenpeace could "mount any more actions". On Thursday he warned Greenpeace that if it sent divers into the Mururoa lagoon the French military might regard it as a hostile act and open fire.
Effect of blast, page 9
- 4 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 5 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
General election: Conservatives mocked online over Boris Johnson's claim of SNP 'jockalypse'
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...