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Missing Swedish journalist 'buried at sea after submarine accident'

| Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
This family handout photo shows Swedish journalist Kim Wall who was allegedly on board a submarine south of Copenhagen before it sank on Aug. 11, 2017.
AFP/Getty Images
This family handout photo shows Swedish journalist Kim Wall who was allegedly on board a submarine south of Copenhagen before it sank on Aug. 11, 2017.
Danish police investigator Jens Moller speaks outside Police Headquarters, Politigaarden, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday Aug. 21, 2017.
Danish police investigator Jens Moller speaks outside Police Headquarters, Politigaarden, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Monday Aug. 21, 2017.
The Danish navy's ship 'Fyrholmen' in Koge Bay, South of Copenhagen, during the continuing search for Swedish journalist Kim Wall, Monday, Aug. 21. 2017.
The Danish navy's ship 'Fyrholmen' in Koge Bay, South of Copenhagen, during the continuing search for Swedish journalist Kim Wall, Monday, Aug. 21. 2017.

An inventor charged with killing a journalist on his personal submarine has admitted that she died on board "and that he consequently buried her at sea" off the coast of Copenhagen, police announced Monday.

But Peter Madsen, who is being held by police, contends that reporter Kim Wall died in an "accident" before he threw her into the water, according to the statement that offered few details for those transfixed by Denmark's nautical mystery.

Wall was last seen on the evening of Aug. 10, leaving the Copenhagen harbor with Madsen in the UC3 Nautilus — described on its website as "one of the world's largest home-built submarines."

Madsen, 46, built the Nautilus nearly a decade ago. He has since taken it on many dives and launched plans to build a crowdfunded space laboratory, according to the BBC.

Wall, from Sweden originally, was working on a story about the engineer, according to her family.

After reporting from the heart of postwar Sri Lanka and the capital of North Korea, taking a submarine trip with a passionate inventor seemed typical for the 30-year-old freelancer — as her friends told it.

"That was what she did. She just wandered places," said Christopher Harress, a reporter for AL.com who met Wall when they both studied at Columbia University.

"She trusted somebody and then this is what happened," Harress told The Washington Post.

Exactly what happened on the Nautilus two weeks ago is still a mystery. All that's certain is the submarine sank; Madsen was rescued from the waters of Koge Bay; and Wall has not been seen since.

Police started searching the morning after she set sail.

Before his story changed, Madsen told police that he dropped Wall off from the ship late Thursday — and later barely made it after the ballast tank malfunctioned and the Nautilus sank in less than a minute.

"I couldn't close any hatches or anything," Madsen told a Danish television station.

But a witness contradicted this. He told reporters that he saw Madsen emerge from the belly of the vessel, and stay in the submarine's tower until water began pouring into it.

Only then did Madsen swim to a nearby boat, the witness said.

"There was no panic at all," he told a Danish outlet. "The man was absolutely calm."

Copenhagen police arrested Madsen on a charge of involuntary manslaughter after the sinking, according to a police news release, and accused him of deliberately wrecking the submarine, which was later lifted from the bottom of the bay.

"There is nobody on board — neither dead nor alive," Copenhagen's homicide chief told reporters at the time.

Madsen denied the charge, but a judge ordered that he be held for 24 days while police continue investigating.

Court proceedings have been closed to the public. And in the absence of information, the case has taken on "the air of the Scandinavian crime thrillers for which the region is known," the New York Times wrote.

A tattered life jacked found floating in the water seemed like a clue last week, the Associated Press reported, but turned out to be unrelated.

And Wall's family, who initially told The Post they hoped she'd come back safely, have since abandoned hope. "It seems the worst has happened," her parents and brother said in a statement last week.

Without explaining what "accident" Madsen blamed for Wall's death, Copenhagen police said on Monday that they expected to find her body in the water off the coast eventually.

Investigators mapped out the submarine's route, and divers searched along it on Friday, with helicopters and boats joining over the weekend.

The search continues this week, though still with no body or answers for those who wait.

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