Unexploded shell
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WW1 bombs still a serious danger

After two men were killed by an unexploded World War One bomb in Belgium, the BBC reveals how collectors of military hardware are putting themselves at risk.

The danger of handling unexploded World War One ammunition was demonstrated on Wednesday when two Belgian workmen were killed by an unexploded shell which was dug up on a building site.

More than a billion shells were fired in the conflict and as many as 30 percent did not explode. After spring ploughing on the former battlefields of France and Belgium potentially lethal ammunition is brought to the surface.

Despite the dangers, there is an illegal trade in this lethal ammunition. Some "collectors" search for the shells, defuse them at home and then sell them at collectors markets.

Angus Crawford visited one area in eastern France which was the scene of fierce fighting. Historian Maarten Otte showed how common the remnants of potentially dangerous ordnance are in the area.

  • 20 Mar
  • From the section Europe