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As they were setting up their nets yesterday for a beach-volleyball tournament, players with a recreational league in the Beaches found eight razor blades embedded in slots of wood, buried just beneath the surface of the sand.

Toronto police used metal detectors and sent city sand-groomers to Ashbridges Bay Park in the east end, closing more than 100 sand-volleyball courts while they searched the site.

"This is probably the sickest thing I've seen," Constable Nick Kalapzopoulos told CFTO News.

Players at the park were mystified by what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to hurt them, but they were also relieved the razor blades were found before they began diving for the ball.

"You could sever an artery or something, and then we thought, we dive in this sand. You know here or anywhere on your body, that dagger was this long across. . . . I mean someone could have died," player Mia Christensen said.

Officials found three additional blades, also carved into 7.5-by-10-centimetre slots of wood and held in place with glue, sharp ends facing up.

"We're obviously dealing with a disturbed person, to say the least. These objects are clearly designed to cause serious bodily harm . . . and were planted deliberately to parties playing beach volleyball," Detective Norman Brinn of Toronto Police Services said.

The players found the first eight blades buried throughout the court area at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday and police believe they were placed there some time between 6:30 p.m. Saturday and the next morning. Det. Brinn said the wood was cut with a machine and someone had gone to a "big effort" to construct the blocks for the "sole purpose of injuring someone."

"We urge the public to use caution while on the beach and to tell us if they have seen anything suspicious," he said. "No motive has come forward and these objects give us great concern. Had play gone on . . . [the razor blades]would have caused extreme injuries."

Staff Sergeant Ted Cook said the area will be cordoned off until a complete search has been done "to be sure we have all these blocks of wood and razor blades out of the ground."