By Moffat Mamu in Honiara
Two foreign nationals have lost their lives in the Solomon Islands during a bomb blast last night at their home in Tasahe, West Honiara.
Police said the two, an Australian and a British citizen, were working for a Norwegian aid agency conducting a survey on unexploded ordnance, RNZ News reports.
The agency, Norwegian Peoples Aid, has named them as Trent Lee and Stephen Atkinson.
Inspector Clifford Tunuki said police were working overnight to clear the site of the explosion which went off between 7.30pm and 8pm.
Witnesses said the sound of the blast ranged through nearby homes.
Some compared the sound of the blast to a vehicle tyre bursting.
Following the blast, people rushed to the scene where they discovered the men badly injured.
An ambulance was immediately called to bring the men to the National Referral Hospital (NRH).
Reports said one of the men died at the scene while the other was confirmed dead later at the hospital.
Last night the area around the home was sealed off as police began investigating the incident.
A statement issued by the Police Media Unit last night said officers of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team and Forensics Department were at the scene following the fatal bomb blast.
The statement said medical authorities at NRH had confirmed last night that the two foreign nationals had died as a result of the blast.
The two expats were working for the Norwegian non-government organisation, Norwegian Peoples Aid, that is conducting a non-technical survey on the contamination of Unexploded Ordnances (UXOs) in Solomon Islands, the police media statement said.
The US State Department funds the project.
Police at the scene
Inspector Tunuki said the police had received a report on the incident yesterday evening and were at the scene of the tragic incident.
EOD officers have rendered the scene safe before the RSIPF Forensics and other investigators were able to access the scene to find out what happened, he added.
“We call on members of the public in the Tasahe area to please stay well away from the area of the incident and allow RSIPF officers to do their work as we investigate this tragic incident,” Inspector Tunuki said.
He also confirmed that none of the RSIPF EOD officers were at the scene when the bomb blast happened, despite the fact that they work together with the project.
He explained the survey team usually went out to confirm the location of the UXOs following reports from the communities and the information was relayed to them.
“We determine what to do with the UXOs after the survey has located them,” Inspector Tunuki explained.
On behalf of the RSIPF, Inspector Tunuki conveyed his sincere condolences to family and relatives of those two foreign nationals who had died.
Many locals expressed shock about the news last night.
Social media was flooded with message of condolences and sympathy to the families of the dead men.
Moffat Mamu is a Solomon Star news reporter.