Briton Stephen “Luke” Atkinson and Australian Trent Lee, demining experts at the Dutch non-governmental organization (NGO) Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), died when trying to defuse a World War II bomb in the Solomon Islands in a residential area of Honiara .
According to AFP, the information was released this Monday by local authorities, but the explosion occurred on Sunday afternoon at the NGO’s office.
The two men are said to be working on creating a database on unexploded ordnance in the archipelago. Local police inspector Clifford Tunuki said the police did not know that this ammunition was there or would have acted immediately. The bombs have now been removed from the site and the area is safe, says the inspector.
The NPA has already said in a statement that all of its activities on the island are suspended and that “the investigation must be completed before a conclusion can be drawn about the cause of the events”.
The Solomon Islands have about 600,000 inhabitants and during World War II they were heavily pumped and attacked during the fighting between the Allied and Japanese forces. There are still several ammunition and bombs on the ground, which has serious health consequences.