One hundred and one unexploded second world war bombs have been discovered in a backyard of a home in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands in the south Pacific.
The unexploded ordnances (UXO) were found by a man who was digging a hole for a new septic system at his property in a residential area.
Following the discovery, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) was called in and removed 101 US 105mm High Explosive Projectiles from the site. Police say they were being stored securely while work was done to defuse the bombs.
“A man in eastern Honiara has just found over 100 WW2 shells in his back garden digging a hole for a new septic system,” wrote Lachlan Strahan, Australia’s high commissioner to Solomon Islands on Twitter. “Australia’s explosive ordnance disposal expert Warrant Officer Ian Percy is helping the Royal Police Force to deal with this terrible WW2 legacy.”
EOD Inspector, Clifford Tunuki warned Solomon Islanders wanting to build on land that may have high UXO deposits to have their properties cleared by a UXO clearance company before commencing work.
The find is part of a devastating legacy in the Pacific from the second world war. Thousands of bombs were dropped on Pacific islands, including Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Palau, many of which failed to explode. Munitions depots were also established across the islands.
After the war, allied countries were supposed to properly dispose of the UXO but they did not always do so. Earlier this month, two men were killed when a second world war bomb exploded in a residential area in Honiara.
Raziv Hilly and Charles Noda were part of a group of Seventh Day Adventists who were cooking in the backyard of a private residential area for a fundraiser when the explosion occurred on9 May.
A 105mm high explosive US projectile was buried 30cm beneath the ground where they were cooking. Raziv, a civil engineer, took the brunt of the explosion and died shortly afterwards. Noda, an accountant and auditor, died six days after the explosion from his injuries. Noda’s wife was also injured in the blast and was taken to hospital.
Last year, an Australian man and his British colleague working on a project to map munitions in Solomon Islands were killed by an explosion in a residential area of Honiara.
There have been calls for Japan, the US and other allied forces to develop a plan to remove the ordnance from Pacific countries.
Opposition leader, Mathew Wale said it was incumbent on the Solomon Islands government to urge Japan and the governments of the allied forces to develop a comprehensive plan.
“I also call on the government to explore the possibility of applying a Coroners inquiry if this option can be used in such circumstances,” he said.
“We are dealing with an unknown situation where the deaths occurred from the actions of foreign states and so proper postmortem and recommendations from a professional authority must be sought if we are to properly address ensuing issues. The incidents are not isolated and so should not be taken lightly by the government,” Wale added.