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Doomsday Seed Vault Opens in Arctic

A vault built to safeguard seed samples of the world's important food crops has opened in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Nobel-Prize winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai on Tuesday placed the first seeds inside the vault, built in caverns 130 meters inside a frozen mountain.

The repository is designed to shield plant seeds and preserve crop diversity in the event of disaster such as climate change, epidemic or nuclear war.

The vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples.

The Norwegian government spent $9 million to build the vault. Other countries can deposit seeds without charge and reserve the right to withdraw them upon need.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.