Hong Kong police will enforce a land, sea and air exclusion zone while they dispose of a World War II British naval mine found by a pleasure diver off Cape D’Aguilar and filled with an estimated 500 pounds of high explosives.

A British naval mine was discovered in the waters off Cape D’Aguilar. Photo: Hong Kong Police.

Police said authorities were notified by the scuba diver in early August that a “suspected bomb” had been found near the popular diving spot. The report was later confirmed and police identified the explosive device as a spherical British mine weighing about 1 tonne.

The mine was intact and police estimate the explosives were still active. It posed no imminent danger to the public or marine vessels but since it was located in rather shallow waters of about 15 metres, authorities opted to neutralise the mine.

Sightings of naval mine fragments are not uncommon in Hong Kong waters, but it was the first time in decades that an intact and undamaged mine has been found.

“Several hundred naval mines were laid in various spots of Hong Kong waters during World War II… usually they had a self-destruction mechanism, they would self-destruct after some time,” said Bomb Disposal Officer Chin Chiu Suryanto.

“In the past 30 years, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau have received numerous reports about mines… but most of the times only fragments of the mine were found,”

Restricted areas

Authorities have declared restricted areas on land, sea and air for the operation on Friday. Hiking trails leading to D’Aguilar Peak will be blocked off and police urged the public not to visit the area until at least the afternoon. Flying drones in the area will also be banned.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.