HK bomb disposal experts say responsibility overrides fear in work

Updated 2018-02-06 15:45:06 Xinhua

Photo provided by Hong Kong police shows a World War II-era bomb discovered during construction work near the Hong Kong Convention Center, Jan. 27, 2018.

"You don't have time to deal with fear. You let fear take over, you cannot discharge your duty," Adam Roberts, a bomb disposal expert from Hong Kong said to the media on Monday.

On Jan. 31, an unexploded wartime bomb was found in a rail link construction site on Harbor Road in Wan Chai, downtown Hong Kong, which was the second one found in the same location within a week. Both took the police at least a day to dispose of.

"You are responsible for the lives of your fellow officers, property in the local area and the public," Roberts, an officer of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Bureau of the Hong Kong Police, said at a press conference held at the Police Headquarters in Wan Chai, recalling the situation when dealing with the second bomb found last week.

He said that it was raining quite heavily during the process of disposing of the bomb and it took a while for them to stabilize it.

Roberts, who joined the EOD bureau in 1998, emphasized that they rely on training, experience and fellow officers, not luck when carrying out the procedures and he appreciated the effort made by every one of his co-workers.

Both of the two bombs were confirmed American-made explosives and believed to have been dropped from a U.S. warplane during World War II, weighing about 450 kilograms.

Including the wartime bomb of another type found in 2014 in a hotel construction site in Wan Chai, a total of three huge wartime bombs weighed more than 450 kilograms have been unearthed in downtown Hong Kong in its history thus far.

The two bombs found on Harbor Road took the police more than 20 hours to finish up the disposal work. The officers took turns to deal with the bombs and they got a break every two hours, except Roberts, who played the main role and had to work longer.

"You don't really feel tired until the job is over," the bomb disposal expert said. "I haven't got time to think about being tired. As soon as the job's finished, then I feel extremely, mentally, physically exhausted."

The police showcased the metal shell of the defused bombs after the press conference for a photo opportunity. Meanwhile, Roberts showed his lucky T-shirt, printing: "Keep Calm. I'm a Hong Kong Bomb Disposal Officer."

Talking about the most difficult part about dealing with the second bomb found last week, Chow Shek-kin, Senior Bomb Disposal officer of the EOD bureau, said that it was in an unstable position and because of the rain, the officers could hardly see the structure such as the detonator of the bomb.

"If the bomb exploded, it would produce a heat of 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius and the shards could fly over 1,000 to 2,000 meters around the area," he said, adding that it would be disastrous if explosion happened. They took most of the time, around 12 to 14 hours, to evacuate people around.

Chow echoed his co-worker, saying although it was a dangerous job, they would not think too much but concentrated on the task and get it done as quick as possible. "If we don't do it, who will?"

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