Solomon Times on Line, today, reported the tragic news of yesterday’s bomb blast when an aviation engineer at the Ministry of Communication and Aviation (MCA) was the victim of the tragic bomb explosion.
Quoting the report it read.
The incident occurred on the property of a private residence where a group of church youths were preparing food outdoors for a fundraising event.
The late Raziv Hilly who was also a youth leader was said to be a very instrumental staff in the expansion of the Honiara International Terminal Project as he was the Acting Chief Operating Officer as well as Property Manager in the MCA at the time of his passing.
Solomon Star reported that Director Aviation Policy, Trevor Veo says the tragedy is a huge loss for the ministry and the government.
In his role as engineer, Raziv was said to have overseen the government projects for both domestic and international airports and played a crucial role in the government’s airport projects. He was also an avid Christian youth leader who spent most of his spare time with the youths and the church.
The local police confirmed yesterday that there were four casualties of the bomb incident. Three of the casualties are currently being treated at the national referral hospital for injuries. Two with serious injuries and one with minor injuries.
The bomb blast was a shock for Honiara residents with many questioning on social media the safety of their homes. Until now, it is still unknown the quantities of explosives remnants left behind from the combat between Japan and the United States during World War Two.
Sporadic clearance was said to take place after the war till now. From 2011 to 2019, the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has invested over $5.1 million for the development of a national EOD capacity in the Solomon Islands and for the support for removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Bomb clearance in Solomon Islands includes Operation Render Safe, a joint clearance program between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The RSIPF Forensic and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team have since identified the bomb that caused the blast yesterday.
End of quote.
Such a terrible and tragic accident to have occurred and I feel sure all, like myself, will extend sincere condolences to Raziv’s family, friends and colleagues and also for the early and full recovery of the other victims of the bomb blast incident.
Solomon Islands was the scene of fierce fighting between allied forces and the Japanese during World War II.
The entire Solomon's archipelago is littered with debris from the war including a large number of unexploded ordnance which continue to sporadically kill and maim locals more than 75 years after the war.
When I left the Solomon Islands in July 1999, I wrote in my book ‘Policing a Clash of Cultures’ a chapter dealing with World War II munitions
Here are extracts from that particular chapter of my book.
During the height of the national crisis occurring on Guadalcanal, I took precautions to have the old WWII munitions storage area at Hell’s Point guarded, but I only became fully aware about the existing, potential danger of UXO’s after leaving the Islands:
By researching into Google ‘Solomon Islands UXO’s,’ several sets of information regarding these UXO problems appear for general readership.
I have combined munitions information, in part from an August 2011 study by Steven Francis and Loane Alma, with contributions added by Lorraine Kershaw.
My original eye was caught by the reference to the RSIPF and naturally…
Also, from the book ‘Under the Gun, the Small Arms Challenge in the Pacific,’ by David Capie which is an excellent read.
Assorted observations, comments, opinions are my own.
For ease of reader understanding and sensible space on these pages I have classified the following items as unexploded ordinance – UXO’s.
They range from assorted bombs, hand grenades, shells, mines: small arms ammunition as used by both American and Japanese ground troops and their aircraft: general purpose explosives of one kind or another which are not encased in outer containers such as bombs.
Include a few pill boxes, old tanks, sunken vessels; all of which are playgrounds for children, SCUBA divers, snorkellers; the curious.
Excluded from the UXO definition are original wartime made firearms, both Japanese and American; rifles, pistols, machine guns, mortars and artillery pieces of various sizes.
Also not covered are marine problems such as oil spills from sunken vessels and on land chemical damage due deterioration.
The 3.5 tons of explosives and WWII munitions that were destroyed during the gun amnesty which followed RAMSI’s intervention were in fact a small part of the UXO’s which are literally lying around the Solomon Islands.
Shelf life is an expandable or expendable subject – a tin of canned food left out in the sun will expand and self destruct. The same applies to ammunition and firearms, especially explosives like gelignite which becomes very sensitive with both heat and age.
Dropped bombs still had live fuses in them that had not gone off the first time, for whatever reason – such as soft ground or angle of penetration – move them, drop them, kick them; here was their second chance to complete the job they were designed for.
I had not given my proper, prior consideration to the proliferation of munitions because I had focused on necessary law enforcement.
During the time I was Police Commissioner in the Islands another ethnic war was in progress in Europe, the other side of the world – the death of Marshal Tito brought about the splitting up of his Yugoslavia: the result was a nasty mini war; NATO involvement in 1999; lots of mines scattered in many undocumented mine fields – modern UXO’s.
Some 15 years after the Yugoslavia war ended HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, heir to the British throne arrived for a Royal visit along with his wife the Duchess of Cambridge.
HRH Prince William’s mother the late Diana, Princess of Wales, was a principal champion of the clearing up of UXO’s, and her help pushed the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty through the United Nations. Over 160 countries, including the Solomon Islands, became signatories to the treaty.
Yes, we have the ongoing UXO problem here – all over the Islands in much more diverse and larger quantities than anything in now named Kosovo.
Old UXO’s are nasty, dangerous objects – especially to playing children who tend to get curious around them.
In addition they are bad for commerce – new finds as recorded in the Solomon Star, Honiara, dated 23 November 2010, reported that 12 unexploded bombs had been found by construction workers at a new complex beside the QQQ Wholesale shop in Honiara’s Chinatown – 12 on one site! In a commercial district some 70 years after the war.
In recent years cleanup work has become the responsibility of individual countries in the Pacific with training coming from mainly Australia and the USA. Based on the Honiara station in my day we had 6 trained RSIPF experts.
After RAMSI arrived that force was augmented by RAMSI staff and operations expanded throughout the Islands to a larger degree.
The mix of UXO’s are much more varied than in the example of Kosovo used. Likewise the age and weather conditions has caused serious deterioration in ammunition and related explosives; including chemical substance leakage – lead, copper, zinc and that ever unstable nitro –glycerin.
When one thinks about it, climate conditions here in the Islands does little to encourage longevity. Leave anything alone for a while and we all know what happens…
RSIPF staff can show at various times, in their storage facilities, large quantities of miscellaneous ammunition ranging from small arms ammunition up to aircraft delivered bombs. And reports confirm that after heavy seas more ‘of the usual,’ wash up on shore.
As this mix of firearms and ammunition grows older they take on ‘camouflage ‘configurations – blending with nature, so that one does not recognize what it is.
Villagers know to teach their children what to look for. Village elders know their history; as to what is where and must share that knowledge.
It could be said that UXO’s are part of one’s growing up education – rather like learning to look both ways before crossing the road.
One thing that should be said is that we all owe a great deal of gratitudeto those officers of the RSIPF and those from the regional military who have and continue to put their own lives at risk when disposing and dealing with unexploded ordinance.
End of quoted extracts.