A SEPIK man lost his right arm and received second
degree burns to his face last week when a World War II bomb he
was tampering with exploded. Another person, a cousin who was
with him, suffered serious injuries and is in hospital while a
third person escaped unhurt. The incident happened in East
New Britain Province. The three were trying to extract explosive
particles from the wartime bomb.
Accidents involving wartime bombs are not new
in the province. In 1984, five youths from Matupit island were
blown to pieces when they tried to tamper with a 1,000 kilogram
WWII bomb on the island.
Many similar incidents in the recent past, where
people have either died or escaped with serious injuries, have
occurred in the province.
This week, acting provincial administrator and
chairman of the Provincial Disaster Committee, Akuila Tubal, issued
a warning to people not to tamper or interfere with any of the
WWII bombs they may find.
Mr Tubal said people need to know that wartime
bombs are still "deadly and dangerous", even though
they may be 40 to 60 years old.
He said these bombs were designed to kill and
destroy properties when they explode and despite the fact that
they have been buried for many years, they are still very dangerous.
The provincial disaster coordinator, Peniel Tolotu,
has been moving around the province trying to record and report
areas where live WWII bombs are located. He has appealed to the
people to report any bombs that are found in their areas instead
of attempting to remove or tamper with them.
So far, a total of 22 bombs, identified as WWII
bombs, have been uncovered as a result of the exercise. At Takubar township, 14 x 50kg bombs have been identified while 8x1000 kg
bombs have been uncovered in Rabaul.
Mr Tolotu said these bombs are still potent and
are capable of causing massive destruction if they explode at
their present location. He said the bombs can also kill hundreds
if they are tampered with or not removed immediately by experts.
Mr Tubal has instructed Mr Tolotu to carry out
an urgent and thorough check of all the villages in the Gazelle
Peninsula where bombs are likely to be found. He has also appealed
to village leaders, councilors and LLG presidents as well as church
workers to assist in the exercise and to educate the people on
the dangers of interfering with these bombs. "We know why
people want to defuse these bombs and why they try to extract
bomb powder or grease from them. They use them for home-made dynamite
and other deadly purposes," Mr Tubal said.