World War I ammunition dump discovered in Zonnebeke

An ammunition dump from the First World War has been discovered in the Schipstraat in Zonnebeke. Firefighters received a call at 1 pm on Wednesday. The caller had reported a smoke bomb that needed extinguishing. However, when they arrived fire fighters found an ammunition dump containing 38 bombs some of which were possibly leaking poisonous gas.

On their arrival at the Schipstraat in the West Flemish village of Zonnebeke fire fighters soon realised that the site was ammunitions dump from WWI.  

The bomb disposal service DOVO was called. One DOVO team dealt with a smoking phosgene bomb and two additional bomb disposal teams went to the scene in case any more of the 38 bombs found at the site started leaking. 

Toxic gas

Phosgene is a poisonous gas that was used as a weapon during World War I. Three houses downwind of the ammunition dump were evacuated.

A mother, her two young children and two neighbors had to leave their homes. The fire service cordonned off the area. Kristof Louagie of the Westhoek Fire Service to VRT News that “There is always a risk of explosion. But here the greatest danger lies in the possibility that more bombs will start leaking”.

As phosgene gas is so toxic, 3 DOVO bomb disposal teams were sent to the site to clear up the ammunition dump.

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