Wednesday, 21 March 2012

'Bomblettes' found near border

GIBRALTAR (GibChronicle/Eyleen Sheil) A total of 72 ‘bomblettes’ which are approximately 60 years old were found at the commercial entrance to the frontier on Monday night. The ordnance were found by the internet connection pipes, which brings all the internet into Gibraltar, salt water main pipes, high voltage cable and the power for the new airport terminal. Chris Ghio, a WO2 in the army explained how they were informed of the finding. He said, “The 72 air drop weapons were found by contractors who were working in the area and initially found various bits of a ‘bomblette’, when a whole one was found, we were called in, we got a call late afternoon stating that there was some unexploded ordnance found at the area by the commercial border.”>>>
The ordnance is classified as an airdrop weapon, approximate weight is 8.5lbs and are point initiated, in other words they function on contact with the target, when an expulsion is initiated and ball bearings will fire off in every direction causing damage. This type of ordnance are designed to hurt people, similar to a nail bomb.

The MOD arrived shortly on the scene and cordoned off the area and the items of ordnance were x-rayed in the actual hole they were found in. Once that was done and it was safe to move them, evacuation works started. The team decided to work through the night in order to have the commercial border open for Tuesday morning. This also meant there were no disruptions to the airport and no flights required to be diverted to Malaga.

Mr Ghio explained what happened once they had established the situation of how many ‘bomblettes’ and how many of them were live and dangerous, “We found four items that were extremely dangerous to move and we conducted a controlled explosion on the Eastern side of the runway. The remainder have been moved to a safe location and will be disposed of accordingly over the next couple of weeks.”

The bomb squad recently completed joint training with the RGP on these types of issues and will have used their recently learnt skills to dispose of the bombs, in a safe controlled environment. The RGP assisted with the evacuation and cordoning off of the area as did their Spanish counterparts, who patrolled the area along the frontier and closed off the Levante beach for the controlled explosion and also offered their assistance in many ways.

It is not clear why the bombs were found there but it is speculated that they were being loaded onto an aircraft or were being stockpiled and forgotten about.

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