Children frolic in the Oittaa outdoor area in Espoo on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2024. LEHTIKUVA


In a perplexing turn of events that captivated both local communities and international news outlets, an intense, sulphur-like smell pervaded large areas of Southern Finland, including Helsinki, Espoo, and Porvo. Despite exhaustive efforts by Finnish authorities, the origin of the malodor, which sparked widespread concern on Sunday, remains unsolved.

The Helsinki Rescue Department received multiple notifications about the strong odor shortly after 3 PM, with reports coming from a broad swath of the region.

A comprehensive investigation ensued, led by the Helsinki Rescue Department with the collaboration of the Helsinki Police, the Border Guard, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Finnish Environment Institute, and the Emergency Response Centre Agency. Despite these efforts, the source of the smell, described by some residents as akin to burning or sulphur, was not identified.

Authorities conducted checks over the Gulf of Finland and extended inquiries to Estonian officials, who reported no unusual activities on their side. Meanwhile, air quality measurements provided by the Finnish Meteorological Institute confirmed that the air quality remained within normal parameters, and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority found no evidence of radiation, easing public health concerns.

Residents were advised to keep windows closed and seek medical care if they experienced any symptoms. The Helsinki Rescue Department, concluding its active investigation without pinpointing the cause, stated that it would continue to monitor the situation while leaving future communications to individual agencies as needed.

The phenomenon also caught the attention of residents in St. Petersburg, Russia, where local media reported similar complaints about unpleasant odors. This occurrence prompted discussions in social media groups, with descriptions varying from gas to burnt rubber, suggesting that the mysterious smell had transcended national borders.

Despite the concerted efforts of various agencies, the mystery remains unresolved, leaving communities on both sides of the Gulf of Finland with more questions than answers.