The Story of the Lost Bomb of Surigao High
Written by: Jake Miranda
I write this after a sleepless 18 hours. As the bomb is now out of the city and is in a more secure place, may I add some facts which would be of interest to those who read or heard about the bomb scare in Surigao City this morning.
It was found buried in just 2 meters of soil under Surigao High School during excavation work for a planned building. Mr. Ryan Sebastien Orquina who discovered that the bomb was brought to his garage by his workers immediately asked for my assistance to verify the bomb. So as early as 9 pm last night, we coordinated with AFP units that could send an EOD unit. At 2 am, incident management team member Nards Go and I had a private conference with the acting mayor, Vice Mayor Casurra at his residence. VM Casurra decided to convene the City’s Crisis Committee at 5 am.
The Army EOD personnel (based in CDO but was currently in Butuan) that was contacted by Col. Rico Amaro was the first one to arrive at 6 am. The team inspected the bomb and judged that it was live with its nose, tail booster fuses and body in pristine condition.The EOD team initially planned to do a controlled detonation in the area but decided later that it was best to transfer the bomb to a more remote area where they will eventually blow it up. The city councilors called for evacuation of the affected area.
The plan was set in motion at 7 am-PNP, Army, BFP and local IMT facilitated by Annette Villaces, plus the city councilors led by VM Casurra contributed to the work. The evacuation was orderly. Councilor Abian supervised the lifting with his own boom truck. We estimated completion by 11 am.
The bomb measures 54 inches long with a diameter of 14 inches with a circumference of 44 inches and has retained its original olive drab color. The reported pin that was removed by one of the workers was actually part of the arming wire which in this case is also part of the triggering mechanism.This type is reported to be an AN-M43 or M64 (Army Navy designation) 500 pounder containing HE/TNT/Almatol which is indicated by a visible 1 inch yellow stripe. Its blast radius can reach as far as 1,000 meters. How destructive is it? A 500 pound bomb could carve out a part of a hill, or sink a small ship. This type of bomb was used by naval aircraft like the SBD and SB2C dive bombers and the TBM/TBF torpedo bomber. A bombing raid was conducted by such aircraft from carriers USS Essex and USS Lexington in Surigao City on September 9, 1944. This particular bomb was aimed at a Japanese Army garrison located on a hilltop, which is now Surigao High School.
It is important to value the role of the Battle of Surigao Strait スリガオ海峡海戦 museum, as we have an indelible link to our WW2 history. Like the unexploded Japanese torpedo now displayed in the museum, this was also a rarity and a remembrance of sorts but a danger as well. The more we know of our past, the better we plan for the future and in this case we knew what kind of bomb we were dealing with.
We finished at 1109 am. And it was time to get a good night’s sleep.