Toronto police baffled by mystery tunnel with rosary nailed to wall

Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:50pm EST
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - A mysterious tunnel discovered in Toronto near one of the venues for this summer's Pan American Games contained a rosary with a crucifix and poppy, and did not appear to be linked to criminal activity, police said on Tuesday.

Police said they had no idea who built the tunnel or why, saying "there's nothing illegal about digging a hole" as they appealed for information from the public.

While the discovery of the tunnel initially led to speculation about possible terror links, police downplayed the risk and public focus quickly turned to jokes about Toronto's overheated housing market and failed efforts to expand its subway.

The hand-dug tunnel, which ran for about 10 meters (33 feet) and was large enough for an adult to stand in, was discovered Jan. 14 in a wooded area near Rexall Centre, a tennis stadium at York University that will be used for the Pan Am Games in July.

"If you built a tunnel near the Rexall Centre in #Toronto give us a call, k?" Toronto Police Sergeant Chris Boddy tweeted.

Reinforced with wooden walls and ceiling supports, the tunnel had electricity supplied by a generator, a sump pump to remove water and a pulley system to remove dirt. Toronto police said it likely took more than one person to build.

Police found the rosary with crucifix and a poppy nailed to one of the wooden supports. Such synthetic red poppies are widely distributed in Canada in November as an annual symbol of remembrance for soldiers lost in combat.

While media speculated the tunnel could be used to store weapons or explosives, or to give attackers access to the Pan Am site, Toronto police Deputy Chief Mark Saunders was dismissive.   Continued...

A 33-foot-long tunnel supported using lumber found in Toronto, Ontario is pictured in this handout photo provided by Toronto Police, February 24, 2015. Police in Toronto have discovered a tunnel with electricity supplied by a generator near one of the venues for this summer's Pan American Games, a spokesman said on Monday. REUTERS/Toronto Police/Handout