24 February 2021
Isaiah Tengata, 11, recovering at the National Referral Hospital. [Photo supplied]

11yr old survives world war II 81mm mortar bomb

AN eleven-year-old boy of Kiribati descent is lucky to be alive after suffering from severe burns to both hands when he was allegedly playing with a World War II 81mm mortar bomb, which had been exposed due to the bad weather.

The incident happened at the Betikama area in east Honiara, Monday 25th January 2021. Senri Isaiah Tengata is recovering at the National Referral Hospital. 

He is likely to miss school for the rest of this year because of the extent of his injuries.

Witnesses said the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) gave off white phosphorus stuff as it burned. 

Tengata’s elder brother told Solomon Star that his little brother was playing with three other kids between 4 pm and 5 pm. 

“Isaiah was on top of a Guava tree when he spotted the 81mm mortar below. He went down from the tree and was running towards it to play with.

“When he reached down to touch it, he was caught with fire. The bomb burnt his clothes, leg, and hands. Luckily there was an elderly man nearby. He rushed to the scene and put out the fire quickly to save the little boy,” he said.

Isaiah (pictured) was rushed to the National Referral Hospital (NRH) where he is recovering from his wounds.

He was heavily bandaged on both hands when the Solomon Star caught up with him over the weekend.

Young Isaiah – a grade two student – told Solomon Star he would likely miss classes for the rest of this year due to the wounds from the burns he had received on both hands and legs.

The incident was reported to RSIPF Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team at Hells Point at 10.30 pm on the night of the incident, according to the police media.

The EOD Team attended the incident the next day and removed 28 of the 81mm White Phosphorous mortars, believed to be from the United States, from the same location where little Isaiah was injured.

Meanwhile, Police have renewed their calls on members of the public to report sightings of any World War II unexploded bombs following the incident. 

Members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team visited the area the next day and removed 28 unexploded 81mm bombs, said to contain the chemical white phosphorus

“The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) strongly calls on members of the public not to touch or go near any of these bombs under any circumstances. Any sightings must be reported immediately,” police said.

Police can be contacted on its Emergency number 999 or the EOD on 7495215 or 7495214.

By FOLLET JOHN                                                                                                                                                             
Newsroom, Honiara