WW2 UXB’s found inside US Embassy compound in Manila

January 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

A Investigation is underway in the Philippines after a shocking discovery of over fifty bombs and artillery shells each capable of destroying a small building, If accidentally detonated, together the cache of explosives would have been capable of widespread mayhem in central Manila’s tourist district.

The location is supposed to be one of the most secure compounds in Asia. The bombs UXB’s (Unexploded Bombs) from WW2 – were buried in a parking lot inside the US embassy compound decades ago, were uncovered friday, during construction.

This after millions of dollars in security upgrades in the last decade – many – prior to 9-11,2001 and all in name of securing a compound that is considered to one of the best guarded sites in Asia.

A statement issued by a state department spokeswoman from the embassy reads as follows:

“*During construction excavation work on Friday on the Chancery compound, some unexploded ordnance, dating back to the WWII era, was discovered.

*To esure the safety of all of Embassy staff, workers on the site, visitors, and local pedestrians, the Embassy evacuated the staff and workers from the area adjacent to the dig and called on the EOD team to investigate, remove, and dispose of the ordnance.

*As of Saturday at 11:15 AM, the EOD team had completed its work and left the compound. Normal operations at the chancery are resuming.

*We greatly appreciate the support and cooperation of the PNP, the EOD team, and the other responders whose swift action and highly professional work ensured the safe removal and disposal of the ordnance.”

The US embassy in Manila has had state of the art security upgrades and over a hundred million dollars spent rebuilding facilities in the past decade. Also intensive training  and assistance given to Philippine authorities to prevent any explosive device from ever penetrating the secure 10 acres or so of US soil in one of America’s most historic Embassy compounds in Asia. The find, brings serious questions into what else could be buried there and in other areas close by. Much of the land is reclaimed from Manila Bay in part from rubble of the battle of Manila six decades ago – over the years bombs, artillery shells, tanks, guns, and even human remains have periodically been uncovered in Manila’s Ermita district.

Yet, here concern has been raised as even after hundreds of Millions of dollars in US taxpayer funds spent on security including upgrades for high tech electronic sweepers – both at the embassy and around its grounds yet none failed to detect high explosives buried litterally right under the US government’s own noses – explosives which include RDX and C2 all buried inside the compound.

The FBI, US State Department Security, Department of Homeland Security and US Marines are sources say sweeping the sprawling grounds near the chancery building and parking lot area.

The US Embassy is under tight security, local law prevents even tourists from posing for photographs outside its grounds and Philippine Police units assigned to guard the perimiter are under strict orders to enforce rules on no photographs allowed of the area.

But, after a backhoe operator digging the foundation for a new drainage cannal leading from a new annex being built inside the seaside compound – made the discovery. Local Police have been privately joking that the Americans didn’t bother to check ‘under the rug’ while seeking strict rules outside embassy walls.

In total  the over 50 bombs buried inside the secure embassy compound recovered were by State Department Security and US Marines and turned over to Philippine Police for disposal. Eltie Police specail forces units from the Specail Action Force of the PNP and bomb sniffing dogs as well as top secret security and survailance gear is deployed around the embassy.

Ground X-ray machines are also planed to be used to check on other possible buried objects. Expect rumors of finding Yamashita’s treasure to surface in the coming weeks! In fairness after WW2 in many parts of Manila and all over the world hundreds of bombs, grenades and landmines as well as other devices are still uncovered daily.

Unexploded bombs from WW2 are not rare in Manila, periodically over Sixty years, much was buried hastily and left behind in the cleanup of Manila after WW2 when much of the city was devestated by the Battle of Manila in which over 100,000 people were killed.

The embassy find, according to reports by the Manila Police district dates back to the Liberation – of the Philippines and most likely was burried by US forces. Who were cleaning out the embassy compound which fomerly was the seat of executive government under the US Commonwealth of the Philippine Islands.

The Manila US Embassy was the US High Comisionners residence, when the Philippine was part of the USA as a commonwealth (similar to Puerto Rico for those readers unfamiliar with that period) the bombs were most likely defused before they were buried but still are considered dangerous..

Manila Police took no chances noting that initial inspection, showed traces of RDX and explosive powder was still present inside the bombs. Described initally on local radio was large aircrat type bombs – Police are now downplaying this saying further examination shows they were mearly Mortar  and artillery shells.

Police say the bombs will be detonated at safe location outside of the capitol area.

Local media reports says “The 50 World War II vintage bombs were recovered from the United States Embassy premises in Manila Friday afternoon,” according to local radio reports say, that “The embassy called the Manila Police District Explosives and Ordnance Division at 2 p.m. (2 a.m.EST) after construction workers discovered the bombs.” Manila’s radio station DzBB reported.

The construction crew, “Was working on a new complex inside the compound meant to expand the current embassy working areas – a worker was using a backhoe at the time, uncovered the bombs at a construction site in a part of the embassy, Police report that visitors were evacuated by embassy security personnel while the US marine guards helped Philippine police EOD teams retrieve the bombs.” the reports went on to say in the local dialect on radio.

A new more secure embassy building inside the seaside compound is being built in the ten acre site on Roxas Blvd. where Manila Bay’s famed sunset has been the backdrop for over a hundred and ten years of American presence – from a governor generals to a high commisioner and now as one of the USA’s most historic and largest staffed diplomatic presence in Asia.

The US Embassy in the Philippines is one of the state departments largest facilities. It serves as regional clearing house for other smaller missions in the South East Asia reegion.

Also its chancery building is the historic site of the Manila War crimes trials as well as a scene of firece fighting during WW II. During Japanese occupation it served as the residence for Japanese Military officails and as headquarters of its gestapo like military police unit the Kempetai.

For my American readers, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam were purchased by USA from Spain in 1899 after the Spanish American War. the US granted the Philippines Commonwealth Status in 1930’s and recognized full independance in 1946.

The Philippines remains home to the largest expatriate American community in Asia numbering hundreds of thousands many of mixed American and Philippine background.

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