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article imageFishing boats finds WW2 mustard gas bomb in catch

By James Walker     Jan 29, 2015 in World
Danish fishermen fishing around the island of Bornholm, south of Sweden, found a dangerous mustard gas bomb among their catch after trawling the hazardous region of the Baltic Sea.
A known harbour to unexploded bombs and other munition relics from World War II, the fishermen noticed the bomb as they lifted it from the sea. Around 90cm long, the bomb was well preserved and did not appear to be leaking any of the chemical within.
Even so, all necessary precautions were taken to protect the bomb, boat and crew. The fishermen phoned ahead to announce the find and were met by special naval bomb disposal experts as they docked in the town of Nexo. The Danish Emergency Management Agency then gave a thorough cleaning to the historical item.
The boat and crew were are also washed to avoid any possible contamination. The haul of fish onboard had to be discarded too in case any mustard gas had leaked inside of the hold.
Mustard gas was used by both sides during the war. It caused severe skin blisters, internal and external bleeding, sore eyes and a stripping of the mucous membrane on the bronchial tubes in a very painful experience. A nurse recounted in her autobiography after the war "I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke."
It is estimated that there are still millions of gas-containing bombs, mines and shells on the seabed around Denmark and Sweden. Particularly high-risk areas are marked on nautical maps but fishermen have still been injured by escaping mustard gas from corroding bombs before, notably in 1984 when over 30 boats were contaminated in three months.
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