Hong Kong police dismantled a World War II-era bomb at an inner-city building site after evacuating more than 2,200 people from nearby apartments and hotels.
Police removed and burned the explosives under controlled temperatures, Jimmy Yuen, a senior disposal officer, told reporters today. The 2,000 pound-bomb, labeled U.S. Navy ANM66, was dropped on the Japanese army occupying the city during the war, police spokeswoman Florence Ma said by phone.
“We all panicked when we heard that a bomb has being found nearby,” said Vuyi Maluno, who worked at the AIA Group Ltd. building close to the site, and was among the employees told to return home at 5 p.m. yesterday.
The police today reopened the cordoned-off area in Happy Valley, near the city’s racecourse operated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, after the bomb was disposed, Ma said. Construction workers in Japan and parts of Asia occupied during the war still routinely uncover undetonated bombs dropped during World War II.
The bomb could have caused severe damage to buildings within a 10-meter radius if not disposed properly, Yuen said. The bomb was found at 3:42 p.m. yesterday at the construction site, Ma said.
Other than the racecourse, the area is known for the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, which is popular among local celebrities. There were no races scheduled last night.
“There were lots of police outside Cosmo Hotel by 4 p.m.,” said Bauke Dijkstra, a 29-year-old visitor from Netherlands. “I was in the shower at 6 p.m. yesterday and the fire alarm suddenly went off. I dressed up real fast and walked down 22 floors.” Dijkstra was staying with his family at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong.
The Japanese army occupied the then-British colony of Hong Kong between 1941 and 1945. In Japan, almost 70 years after World War II, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is still clearing unexploded ordnance scattered throughout the nation, including in central Tokyo, where military bases and headquarters were once located.
“We just checked in yesterday morning and we immediately hit the jackpot,” said Pang Lung Jiang, a 63-year-old retiree from Shanghai whose family was staying at the Cosmo Hotel.