A shell (illustration) -
BPI / REX Shutterstock / SIPA
Two demining experts died on Sunday in the Solomon Islands.
They were trying to neutralize ammunition from World War II, which just exploded at that time.
The two men, employees of the NGO Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), had stored ammunition without authorization in Honiara, the capital.
The two victims, a British and an Australian, were helping to build a database on unexploded ordnance in the archipelago.
Ammunition held illegally
The explosion occurred in the NGO's office, police said.
"We do not know exactly what caused the explosion of the bomb," said the inspector in charge of the investigation.
But it looks like "they had multiple UXOs in the residence and may have been working on them."
The police were unaware that the ammunition was stored there.
If she had known, she would have insisted that they be transported to an appropriate demining center, the inspector said.
They have since been removed in order to secure the area concerned, mainly residential.
Explosives as dangerous as ever
NPA activities in the archipelago were temporarily suspended after the accident.
The Solomon Islands were the scene of heavy fighting during World War II.
After the end of the conflict, many shells, landmines and other ammunition were abandoned there.
The NPA is working with the local police to investigate the extent of the problem and develop a collection program.
On its website, the NGO assures us that this military material poses security problems and is harmful to the environment because it releases chemicals.
"Ammunition […] continues to kill or seriously injure […] and is used for destructive fishing practices", argues the NPA.
“They are found on construction sites, coral reefs, farms, forests and suburban gardens where children find them and sometimes play with them.
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Second World War