WWII explosive in Jiak Kim Street successfully disposed of, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

WWII explosive in Jiak Kim Street successfully disposed of

This article is more than 12 months old

Condominium residents and hotel guests told to vacate before operation which lasted more than 11 hours

A World War II explosive discovered near the former site of nightclub Zouk was successfully detonated yesterday, after intense preparations that included getting residents in the vicinity to leave their homes.

Police said the 50kg aerial bomb, found last Tuesday at a construction site in Jiak Kim Street, was disposed of at 4.35pm during an operation that lasted more than 11 hours.

Police had earlier said the bomb was unsafe to be moved, and had to be detonated on-site.

The disposal of the bomb relic was carried out by around 40 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces' Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team.

"The size (of the bomb) and the terrain made this operation more difficult," a police spokesman said, adding that more than 200 officers from a range of government agencies, including the Land Transport Authority and national water agency PUB, had to be enlisted.

The first controlled explosion was at 11am, with passers-by saying they heard it from as far as 1km away.

Residents of more than 600 units in three nearby condominiums, who had earlier been told to vacate their homes, were allowed back into their apartments from about 6.15pm.

These residents - from Tribeca by the Waterfront, Rivergate and Mirage Tower condos - had been told by the police to leave their windows slightly ajar yesterday so that the glass would not be shattered by the blast.

Across the street, guests from around 155 rooms in the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel that had been declared out of bounds were also let back into their rooms.

The hotel, which has 574 rooms, had set up a lounge for them with refreshments to keep them comfortable during the operation.

Police said the authorities, such as the Building and Construction Authority, ensured that surrounding buildings were safe before those affected were allowed to return.

Earlier in the day, at around 7.30am, about 20 to 30 police officers were seen in Kim Seng Road and Jiak Kim Street to set up a 200m cordon around the area and make sure condo residents had left by 8am as instructed.

At 9.30am, several roads were closed in anticipation of the operation, with Singapore Civil Defence Force officers seen unrolling hose reels across Kim Seng Road as a precautionary measure.

The EOD team, which is from the army's combat engineers formation, dug a containment trench and set up protective works, including an overhead cover with compacted sandbags stacked together.

"A shaped charge was then employed to break open the bomb body in order to burn the main explosives within," the Singapore Army said in a Facebook post.

Mr Lim Jun Shan from Explomo Technical Services - which provides explosive and ordnance disposal services - said that while war relics are commonly found in construction sites, they are not always detonated on site.


"Such on-site detonation will be done only if the UXO (unexploded ordnance) is assessed to be unsafe to move and any movement could potentially trigger the item, causing it to explode prematurely," said the deputy general manager and former combat engineer.

Explomo was not involved in the operations in Jiak Kim Street.

Mr Lim added that the public need not be concerned if instructions given by the authorities are followed, as such detonation would be carried out in accordance with the safety procedures in place.

However, safety officers and project managers at construction sites should be concerned when they find such unexploded ordnance.

"Having been buried for so long, many would assume that such war relics are safe and would not function as intended. On the contrary, such buried bombs are less stable and could be more sensitive and dangerous," he added.

War relics dug up in construction sites are not uncommon.

In September, unexploded ordnance, including small arms ammunition, were found at a construction site in Jurong Island. In 2014, the SAF team was called in to do an on-site disposal of another 50kg World War II aerial bomb at a construction site in Telok Blangah.