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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Huge WWII bomb goes bang

Huge WWII bomb goes bang

AN explosive ordinance disposal team detonated the largest bomb ever found in Cambodia

on Wednesday. The 2,000 pound device was probably dropped by American forces in 1943

in a raid against Japanese naval operations according to Cambodian Mines Action Center

(CMAC) officials.

Workers at a brick factory thought that they had hit a rock when they were digging

for clay in the bottom of a pond at Km 6 of Route 5. When they told a Cambodian reporter

that they had encountered a large metal object, he contacted CMAC to investigate.

If the bomb had detonated, the supply of Coca-Cola in the country could have been

affected. The bottling plant was within the device's blast range of 800 meters, according

to CMAC explosive-ordinance demolition officer Hang Vannara.

The device was moved May 9 to the CMAC training center in Korb Srov for disposal.

The device was reportedly safe when moved. "The most dangerous types are spring-loaded

or are motion-sensitive bombs," Vannara says. "This one was equipped with

impact fuses only in the nose and tail sections. The tail fuse was broken off already

and we covered the nose with plaster of Paris just to be sure."

"It is bigger than anything dropped by the Americans in the 1970s," says

CMAC information officer John Brown. "Most of the bombs dropped by B52s were

500 and 750 pounders."

Not only have explosive ordinance disposal experts concluded that it was American,

attachments to it indicate that it was dropped by an American aircraft, most likely

a B-29 bomber.

Technically the device is called a "General Purpose Bomb" according explosive-ordinance

recognition manuals. The 1.8 by .6 meter device held 578 kg of TNT.

The disposal team buried the device under four meters of sand and attached about

four pounds of C4 explosive to it. Officials were frank about not knowing how big

or loud the explosion would be. "I was worried about the noise and the danger

of the explosion, but the technical experts assured me that the impact radius would

only reach about 200 meters," says CMAC chief of staff Phan Sothy. "We

told the [local authorities] to expect a very loud noise."

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