Second world war shell found in Victoria Park destroyed at the fourth attempt

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 March, 2015, 1:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 4:41pm

Traffic ground to a standstill on roads around Hong Kong’s Victoria Park this afternoon as police bomb disposal officers detonated a second world war artillery shell.

A controlled explosion was successfully carried out at 4.20pm, a police spokesman said, following three earlier attempts that failed.

In order to ensure public safety during the operation, a section of the Island Eastern Corridor expressway and nearby roads in Causeway Bay were closed, according to the Transport Department.

At about 4.15pm, westbound vehicles were jammed bumper to bumper on the expressway and queues stretched for more than 3km from the site to Taikoo Shing.

Eastbound traffic from Central to Causeway Bay in Wan Chai along Gloucester Road and Harcourt Road and Connaught Road Central also came to a standstill, while queues stretched from the Canal Road flyover in Wan Chai to Aberdeen.

This morning, a senior police officer said soft ground, thick casing and the installation of wiring had hampered their efforts to destroy the shell at the site. 

The drama began on Wednesday when construction workers building a new link road on the edge of the park unearthed the decades-old munition.

Part of the park was sealed off as work began to dispose of the shell. At about 8.30pm on Wednesday, officers from the police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau carried out the first controlled explosions. However, they failed to disarm the shell.

A bang was heard in the area and white smoke was seen billowing into the air. Roads reopened soon after, but closed again at about 11pm.

The slip road where the shell was dug up will link the new Central and Wan Chai Bypass to Tin Hau.

The work was hugely controversial as local councillors and residents complained that they had not been aware the road would cut through the park.

Further details about the shell have not been revealed, but Hong Kong has a history of dealing with long-forgotten ordnances dating back to the second world war.

Early last month, bomb disposal officers destroyed three wartime shells left by the Japanese army in Violet Hill in Tai Tam Country Park. They were detected by three military enthusiasts with metal detectors.

In January, bomb disposal officers carried out a controlled explosion of four wartime grenades and one mortar on a slope along Black's Link in Aberdeen Country Park. The weapons were found together with 54 rounds of ammunition, police said.

In February last year, a 900kg US wartime bomb was unearthed on a Happy Valley construction site, sparking the evacuation of more than 2,000 people from nearby hotels, offices and flats. About six months ago, bomb disposal officers defused a 46cm armour-piercing bomb, left by the Japanese army after the second world war and discovered by workers at a construction site next to North Point Ferry Pier.