Eight people, including four children, died after a man hammered at a vintage bomb he had found, believing it to contain gold.
Zamboanga del Norte police today (Thursday, January 4) said that a rubber tapper called Karding Antugon found the mortar shell lying by the side of a road yesterday.
He then took it to his bunkhouse at the Sirawai Plywood and Lumber Corporation where he began to investigate his find. According to conflicting reports, he either used a stone or a hammer and nail in an attempt to get inside the bomb.
Speaking to AFP, police officer Almacer Tabalang said: “He must have thought it contained gold somehow.” He added that parts of the elongated shell had a golden sheen, which may have sparked the 21-year-old’s interest.
Also killed in the explosion were Toto Simbulaan, aged 15, Lloyd Simbulaan, seven, Baby Simbulaan, five, Jufer Simbulaan, 16, Junrey Sango, 18, and Nardo Quimas, age unknown, and a seventh as yet unidentified victim.
Six died at the scene of the explosion, which occurred at about 5pm yesterday, while Sango and Jufer were declared dead at the Zamboanga City Medical Center.
Seven others were wounded and are being treated at the same hospital.
Chief Inspector Helen Galvez told the Philippine News Agency that police were continuing to investigate the source of the bomb.
While it has not been ruled out that it was placed near the road recently, it is believed to be a vintage bomb.
The countryside around Sirawai town was the scene of heavy fighting between government forces and Abu Sayyaf Islamic militants in the 1990s. It is considered likely that the young man would not have been familiar with ordinance used in those times.
Unexploded bombs dating from World War Two are also uncovered on a regular basis, particularly during construction work.