CHINA / National

Joint team begin disposing Japan chemical weapons
Updated: 2006-07-05 14:49

A joint Chinese-Japanese team was preparing Wednesday to excavate abandoned Japanese poison gas bombs from World War II that were buried near a school after a factory received them as scrap metal.

Experts in blue overalls were using metal detectors to locate more than 100 bombs on the grounds of a metal-processing plant in this northeastern town near China's border with Russia. The pit is about 200 meters (200 yards) from a junior high school, where students played in an exercise yard as the weapons-removal team worked.

Officials hoped to have the weapons excavated by next week and moved to a secure stockpile in preparation for destroying them, said a Chinese Foreign Ministry official, Liu Yiren.

Abandoned chemical weapons "have been affecting the development of towns and cities where they are buried and threatening people's lives," Liu told reporters. In Ning'an, "the local government has been presenting this issue repeatedly to the foreign ministry."

A temporary holding site -- surrounded by a 1.5-meter-high (five-foot-high) concrete wall lined with sandbags, apparently to contain any explosions - was set up nearby for handling the bombs.
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