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Faulty missile launcher closes busy Danish sea lane

(Refiles wih new slug DENMARK-DEFENCE/ to match TV, no change to text)

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -An activated but faulty missile launcher on a Danish navy vessel triggered a closure of airspace and shipping traffic in the Great Belt strait on Thursday, the Danish armed forces said.

Denmark's National Maritime Authority had earlier warned ships not to sail through the Great Belt strait, one of the world's busiest sea lanes and the main maritime access to the Baltic Sea, due to the risk of "falling missile fragments".

"The problem occurred during a mandatory test where the missile launcher is activated and cannot be deactivated," the military said in a statement.

"Until the missile launcher is deactivated, there is a risk that the missile can fire and fly a few kilometres away," the military added.

A naval exercise was ongoing in the area, a navigational warning showed.

The warning covered an area some four kilometres (2.5 miles)south of the Great Belt bridge, which crosses the strait. The bridge remained open to traffic, its operator said.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Stine Jacobsen, editing by Terje Solsvik, Gwladys Fouche and Nick Macfie)