A 1,000-pound bomb that failed to explode during World War II was recovered recently in a busy Hong Kong neighborhood. This happens to be the second bomb discovered in the area in this week.
Millions of explosives remain buried under the ground, dropped from airplanes, cannonballs or fired artillery. The existence of these bombs is probably the link between the gory human past and present.
The bomb found in Hong Kong is a US-made AN-M65, standing witness to the Allied bombing campaigns against Japan during the war. The bomb, however, did not explode.
When an aircraft releases the bomb, the fan on its tail and nose spins in the air and turns the bomb until the fuse is primed, thus releasing a small charge that sets off the main charge of the explosive. This, however, did not happen in case of the recent bomb discovered. Workers worked overnight to remove the bomb safely in a "dirty, difficult and dangerous condition," reports BBC.
Brian Castner, a former Air Force officer and also the author of "The Long Walk" and "All the Ways We Kill and Die" said that leftover explosives post the great wars are a huge problem and the only way to solve the issue is "one by one, bomb by bomb." He further stated that discovering bombs is a common issue across Europe, Asia and the United States, where explosive shells were widely used, particularly during the Civil War.
A cordon was formed in Hong Kong to help technicians work on such bombs buried in the ground.
Older bombs such as this one are more dangerous as they tend to grow unstable with constant changes in chemical process and degradation of the fuse thus making the volatile explosives in the bomb more sensitive. Keeping this in mind, the method of controlled detonation has been formed. It blows up such bombs with another explosive such as C-4. This is the best way to dispose of old bombs.
The bomb in Hong Kong was defused by burning out the explosives using a blow torch after piercing it. The process took 24 hours. Bomb-clearing organization Mines Advisory Group estimates that the remnants of the bombs kill or injure at least 18 people a day, most of them being children playing in old battlefields in countries such as Vietnam and Colombia.
Laos is considered the most heavily bombed country in history per capita. US dropped at least two million tons of artillery there for nine years till 1973. According to Legacies of War, an advocacy group, it is equal to a full payload dropped every eight minutes, 24 hours a day.
The Vietnamese government and US groups have decided to remove the buried bomb clusters that have killed 40,000 people. A Vietnamese official said that it would take 300 years to remove all the bombs.
The bomb found in Hong Kong was similar to another bomb discovered early this week. In 2014, a 2,000-pound bomb was disposed off near Happy Valley district and in 2010, three German bomb technicians were killed while defusing a World War II bomb. World War II era bombs have washed ashore such as those found off North Carolina's coast.
In 2008, an American artifact collector was killed while restoring a cannonball used during the Civil War. As per estimates, as many as one in five were duds and some still remain buried in the ground, making it unsafe for the future underground construction projects in Virginia and Pennsylvania.