About 2,000 people in Hong Kong were evacuated after an unexploded bomb from the second world war was unearthed on Thursday and found to be in an unstable state. Services at Kai Tak MTR station were also suspended at about 5pm, after the device was discovered at the site for a pedestrian tunnel on Muk Yuen Street near Concorde Road.
Workers called police at about 2.40pm after spotting the bomb, which is reportedly about one metre long. A bomb disposal team ordered the workers to be evacuated, and a police spokesman said the station had been closed because the device was near the tracks. The MTR Corporation said services on the Tuen Ma line (phase 1) would not stop at the station.
The site lies in the area of the former Kai Tak International Airport, which served the city from 1925 to 1998. Earlier, more than 1,200 construction workers were evacuated from the zone. As of 8pm, 2,000 people, including workers, MTR passengers and residents from flats facing the construction site at the nearby One Kai Tak residential estate had been cleared from the area.
The residents were bused to Kai Tak Community Hall, which was serving as a temporary shelter. Police said the expanded evacuation was due to the unstable state of the bomb. They also urged people to avoid travelling to the area. On Friday morning, train services were back to normal and the Kai Tak station had reopened.
The explosive device in question was reported to be 30cm in diameter and buried in the ground to a depth of 10 metres. At about 11.30pm on Thursday, specialists at the site prepared to use abrasive water-jet technology as part of a removal procedure, according to a police source. The source said the process would take about three hours. Police would give a briefing after its completion.
Unexploded wartime bombs have been discovered in the city periodically, and mostly at construction sites. In February, a wartime bomb unearthed at a construction site at a Sikh temple in Happy Valley was defused, with about 300 worshippers and guests at a nearby hotel evacuated. It weighed 454kg and was 1.3 metres long and 0.4 metres in diameter.
In May, a one-meter-long, 200kg Japanese armour-piercing shell was discovered at the Tseung Kwan O Landfill. About 50 people were evacuated before it was destroyed by police. On December 8, 1941, the Japanese air force carried out a devastating attack that wiped out British Royal Air Force planes at the airport on the first day of the offensive in the Battle of Hong Kong. The former British colony was surrendered to Japan on Christmas Day that year, and was occupied for nearly four years.