Ecuador begins destroying WW II bombs

January 18th, 2012 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Quito, Jan 18 (IANS/EFE) Ecuador has begun destroying 11 US bombs of World War II vintage that were found in 2010 by fishermen in the Galapagos Islands, the defense minister said.

The defense ministry delegate for the destruction of the Galapagos bombs, Xavier Drouet, told EFE that Monday they “successfully” blew up the first six bombs, and Tuesday would explode the other five.

Drouet said the Americans had a military base on Baltra island in the Galapagos, and these armaments were used for drills and exercises there during World War II.

Some 95 percent of the territory’s 8,000 sq. km constitutes a protected area that is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds found nowhere else on the planet.

The islands were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.

The bombs were found in October 2010, and since then they have been stored on Santa Cruz Island. Later the defense ministry decided to destroy them because they represent “a big risk for the inhabitants”, Drouet said.

Since the explosives belonged to the US, a group of Ecuadorian soldiers traveled to Oklahoma to be trained in how to dispose of the munitions.

The bombs are being detonated jointly by troops, police and firefighters in the uninhabited military zone of Baltra island, and “great care is being taken not to affect any Galapagos species” in the process.

Some 16,000 soldiers were based at Baltra, a strategic location for the American Army due to its position in the mid-Pacific Ocean.

The Galapagos Islands are located about 1,000 km west of the coast of continental Ecuador and were named the first World Natural Heritage Site in 1978.


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