Mount of ext3 partition of an old linux system hangs on OpenSuSE 11.1

A colleague attempted to mount an ext3 partition from an old SuSE installation on
the new installed OpenSuSE 11.1, but the mount kept hanging for a long time.
The mount command was killed with SIGKILL.

To investigate the problem, I started with strace :

lxreka:~ # strace mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb2 /mnt
execve("/bin/mount", ["mount", "-t", "ext3", "/dev/sdb2", "/mnt"], [/* 87 vars */]) = 0
brk(0) = 0x805f000
access("/etc/", R_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/etc/", O_RDONLY) = 3
getpid() = 3470
open("/etc/mtab~3470", O_WRONLY|O_CREAT|O_LARGEFILE, 0600) = 3
close(3) = 0
gettimeofday({1236338198, 546933}, NULL) = 0
link("/etc/mtab~3470", "/etc/mtab~") = -1 EEXIST (File exists)
open("/etc/mtab~", O_WRONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = 3
gettimeofday({1236338198, 547779}, NULL) = 0
alarm(30) = 0
fcntl64(3, F_SETLKW64, {type=F_WRLCK, whence=SEEK_SET, start=0, len=0}^C
As can be seen, the mount kept in the fcntl hanging to set a write lock.

There were a lot of /etc/mtab~* files there. I removed every file and after this
the mount finished successful.