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Citizens evacuated as WWII shell is detonated

Date Posted: 2010-10-21

Deemed too dangerous to move, the Explosive Ordnance Specialists of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force exploded a U.S. shell from the Spring 1945 Battle of Okinawa where it was found near Shuri Castle in downtown Naha City.

Some 2,800 people living within a radius of 300 meters from the site where the shell was found in July were evacuated to safer locations as the bomb disposal squad detonated the rusty ordnance by remote control Monday. The action came after a GSDF unit placed the 90-centimeters-long, 118-kilogram naval shell into a five-meters deep hole, using a crane.

The shell was found near Shuri Castle, symbol of the Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled Okinawa before Okinawa was annexed by Japan in the late 19th century. The naval shell was found as construction workers were preparing to build a new house.

The special EOD operation was the first in a residential area since 1972, when Okinawa reverted from U.S. occupation to Japanese control. It took 144 GSDF personnel more than eight hours to accomplish the mission, and more than nine hours before tired residents were allowed to return home. “I feel it was like a war experience,” said one resident, “and the last World War is not yet finished.”

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