A 500-pound bomb has been found in Phyang village in Huon Gulf District, endangering the lives of over 500 people.
Captain Ivor Nateleo of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force engineering battalion said it will be dealt with immediately as a bomb of its size is capable of causing major damage.
The bomb was first discovered by a local fisherman in the early hours of January 28th along the Rumu River.
Locals alerted the Provincial Disaster Office who then notified the Papua New Guinea Engineering Battalion at Lae’s Igam Barracks to do some assessments.
The team visited the site on Wednesday, and set up a barricade, cautioning to stay clear of the site.
From the initial assessment, Captain Nateleo said a blow-in place-exercise will be conducted – meaning, the bomb will be blown in the site where it has being found.
The normal process would be to transport the bomb from its location and be disposed in the sea.
This one, however, is quite complicated to move, according to Capt Nateleo, who said it would be a risky exercise.
“It’s quite rusty and in a very unstable state. We have to deal with it before it goes off. A few months back there was another bomb found in this location that went off by itself so it poses a big threat to the community.”
“If it goes of it will affect communities 1 to 2 km from here, and it might give a big damage effect to the environment because a bomb of its caliber can do quite a big damage to the environment.”
The PNGDF Engineering battalion captain, said the exercise will be precise so as not to cause any damages to the surrounding environment and especially civilians.
‘We have to do awareness first and educate the people that the size and magnitude of the bomb. Is quite big. We have to move them outside the radius of 5km, once we have all the atreas secured and confirmed that everyone ids outside the blast zone, we go ahead and detonate the bomb.”
The location of the bomb is some kilometers away from Nadzap Airport which was a strategic site during WWII. The landing at Nadzab was an airborne landing on 5 September 1943 by the allied forces during the New Guinea campaign of World War II. The Nadzab action began with a parachute drop at Lae Nadzab Airport, combined with an overland force.
Captain Nateleo said the it is yet to be discovered whether the bomb is a property of the allied forces or the Japanese. He however said the spot is a hotspot for war relics and more bomb discoveries are anticipated in the area.
Locals on the other hand, had their own story to tell. Linke Efombe, the church congregation leader said his greatest fear now was the safety of the 500 plus people in the village.
“We were all very afraid when we found the bomb. Because when the last one went off, some shrapnel went as far as the village, fortunately no one was hurt,” Efombe said.
For now, the PNGDF engineering battalion and the disaster office will be conducting awareness within the surrounding community leading up to the bomb detonation exercise which is schedule to happen over the weekend.
“First we have to excavate the site, around the unexploded bomb, make sure its stable and after that we will move off the site and have someone come put blow charges in place, (that is to detonate the main bomb) and we will go stay in a safer location properly a kilo away and then blast from there, after that will give a little time allow the blasting process to complete and we will come to reconfirm if it has already being detonated.”
By Sharlyne Eri – EM TV News, Lae