The military on Wednesday urged commuters to keep out of an abandoned airfield in Prachuap Khiri Khan where a 450-kg bomb was to be destroyed this afternoon.
The bomb, thought to have been dropped by the Allied forces during World War II, was discovered Tuesday close to a railtrack, causing hours of train delays. An air force EOD team estimated the device to have a blast radius of about 1.8 kilometers.
The explosive was moved from where it was found to a disused airfield in Wang Pong subdistrict. It was buried two meter deep to lessen the impact, but the area was nevertheless cordoned off for safety reasons, EOD officer Nawin Wutthiranarit told the media.
The discovery was made by construction crew in Pranburi district who were building a new train track underneath an existing rail bridge, about 500 meters away from Wang Pong Train Station. An excavator hit a metal object while digging, and the crew soon realized it was a large bomb.
“At first I thought it was a bridge pillar, so I picked it up, but my colleagues rushed to tell me it looked like a bomb,” excavator operator Ruangthong Poonriboon told reporters. “I was very shocked … It was lucky the bomb didn’t explode.”
The railway authority immediately halted train travel in the area as a precaution while an EOD team removed the explosive. The team was part of a provincial air force base known for fighting the Japanese army when Japan invaded Thailand in 1941. Rail service resumed at about 8pm Tuesday.
The military said the bomb was one of the explosives dropped by the Allied air force in its campaign against Thailand’s railway after the country joined the war on the Axis side.
Many such explosives remain buried in Thai soil, over 70 years after the war. Officials in Ratchaburi province are struggling to dismantle a cluster of similar bombs found underwater close to a railway bridge there.
The bombs were dropped in 1942 during air raids targeting Chulalongkorn Bridge over the Mae Klong River. The raids destroyed the crossing and killed the Ratchaburi governor at the time.k