Surigao seeks help from US, Japan in search of WW2 bombs

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Jan) – The Peace and Order Council here has requested the embassies of the United States and Japan to send teams to the city to find vintage bombs around a public school here where a 500-pound bomb was found over the weekend.

The bomb, believed to be dropped by the Americans on a Japanese target but did not explode, was unearthed at the Surigao del Norte National High School last Sunday. The find reached the attention of authorities on Wednesday, who then issued a resolution requesting help from experts in the US and Japan, said Vice Mayor Alfonso S. Casurra.

Local historians said the school used to be a garrison of the Japanese force during the World War II.

Aside from the bomb, a base of a flagpole believed to be from the Japanese was unearthed at the construction site inside the school.

Some residents here believe there may be more bombs in the area.

“To make us feel safe, this area must be searched thoroughly because there may be more of it left,” said Chester Clark Yee, who lives nearby.

“We need to clear the area from possible vintage bombs,” said Robert Comendador, a teacher at the school where the bomb was found.

Last Sunday (Jan. 15), Julito Calimpong, a backhoe operator, hit a metallic object when he was doing excavation work at the school. It was found at six meters deep.

He actually thought it was some treasure that would make him rich.

Calimpong brought what he thought was treasure to the house of his employer, Danilo Orquina, former mayor of Bacuag in Surigao del Norte.

Orquina, who lives at Bernadette Village in this city, was quick to identify it as a vintage bomb and warned Calimpong and other workers not to touch it.

The bomb is 54 inches long with a diameter of 14 inches. It has retained its original olive drab color.

Army bomb experts who came to Orquina’s house identified the bomb as an AN-M43 or M64 (Army Navy designation) 500 pounder containing HE/TNT/Almatol which is indicated by a visible 1-inch yellow stripe. It was used by naval aircraft like the SBD and SB2C dive bombers and the TBM/TBF torpedo bombers.

Explosive and Ordnance Division personnel of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division arrived at Bernadette Village on Tuesday morning and removed the bomb.

Some residents of the village were frightened upon being told to evacuate for their safety.

Johanne Jake Miranda, who once served in the Philippine Navy as a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, said the EOD team confirmed that the bomb was live with its nose, tail booster fuses and body still in good condition.

Lt. Col. Colonel Rico Amaro, commanding officer of the 30th Infantry Battalion based in Bad-as, Placer in Surigao del Norte, said they have with them the vintage bomb which will be detonated in a safer place.

Local historians said the bomb was among those that were dropped by US bombers during WWII.

“A bombing raid was conducted by such aircraft from carriers USS Essex and USS Lexington in Surigao City on September 9, 1944. This particular bomb was aimed at a Japanese Army garrison located on a hilltop, which is now Surigao High School,” said Miranda, who contributed significant work to the Battle of Surigao Strait Museum. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)