In a press conference Sunday, senior bomb disposal officer Tony Chow Shek-kin said the explosive was believed to be an ANM-65 device dropped by American bombers between 1943 and 1945, when Hong Kong was under Japanese occupation.
Authorities said that after they discovered that the front detonator to the bomb was damaged, they evacuated 1,300 people from the surrounding area as a precaution.
“[The damaged detonator] would pose a danger if we were to move the bomb. So we have to dismantle it at the scene,” Chow told the press. If it accidentally detonated, shrapnel could have flown over a mile away, he said.
Unexploded wartime ordinances are still occasionally found in Hong Kong, most recently in January 2017, when an American bomb was found in a residential neighborhood. In February 2014, a nearly 2,000-pound bomb was found near Hong Kong’s famous Happy Valley racecourse.
With the continual building development and land reclamation in this Chinese territory, hidden unexploded ordinances are unearthed with enough regularity that the Hong Kong police established a specialized bomb disposal squad back in 1972.
The latest bomb was unearthed at a construction site for a new rail link on land reclaimed in the 1980s.