Solomons blast kills Australian chemical weapons expert and Briton

‘One bump and it’s all over’: Chilling final post of Australian chemical weapons expert who was killed in a bomb blast alongside his British colleague in the Solomon Islands

  • Australian man and British man have died in bomb explosion in Solomon Islands
  • Trent Lee and Briton Luke Atkinson died while in a rented apartment in Honiora
  • The Australian chemical weapons expert working to identity unexploded bombs
  • It was one of the same bombs that ripped through a residential street overnight

An Australian chemical weapons expert and his British colleague have been killed in a bomb blast in the Solomon Islands.  

Australian Trent Lee and Briton Luke Atkinson, 57, died when an explosion ripped through a residential street in Honiora, the nation’s capital, between 7.30pm and 8pm on Sunday, their aid agency confirmed.

Mr Lee, believed to be in his 40s, was a bomb specialist working for Non-Government Organisation Norwegian Peoples Aid.

The men had been performing sweeps for unexploded World War II explosives when the blast occurred. 

An Australian chemical weapons expert and his British colleague who were working to identify unexploded World War II bombs in the Solomon Islands have been killed in a blast

Following the explosion, residents rushed to the scene to find the men seriously injured, the Solomons Star newspaper reported.  

They were taken to Honiara’s National Referral Hospital. One of the men died at the scene while the other was confirmed dead at the hospital.

Mr Lee took to Facebook to talk about how dangerous his line of work was just a month before the fatal explosion. 

‘Pretty much the most dangerous WW2 ammunition we find…it’s cocked and ready to fire…one bump and it’s all over,’ he wrote on August 13. 

Local police have sealed off the blast area and launched an investigation.

A police statement said officers of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and Forensics Department were at the scene.

The two men were conducting a non-technical survey on the contamination of unexploded ordnances in the Solomons, the police media statement said. 

Australian Trent Lee and Briton Luke Atkinson, 57, died in a rented apartment in Honiora, the nation’s capital, between 7.30pm and 8pm on Sunday night

Inspector Clifford Tunuki said police spent the night clearing the explosion site. 

‘Explosives ordinance disposal officers will have to render the scene safe before forensics and other investigators access the scene to find out what happened,’ Inspector Tunuki told media. 

The US State Department funds the project, which works to remove undetonated explosives all over the world.

The Solomon Islands are littered with unexploded material from World War II, according to NPA. 

NPA deputy secretary-general Per Nergaard confirmed in a statement that Mr Lee and Mr Atkinson had died in the blast.

Trent Lee posted about the dangers of working with live bombs just a month before the fatal explosion  (pictured, images from his Facebook page)

The Solomon Islands (pictured) are littered with unexploded material from World War II, according to NPA

‘This is a tragic accident. So far, we know that there has been an explosion with fatal consequences,’ he said.

‘Our main priority now is to offer assistance to relatives and colleagues and to clarify what has happened.’

‘The safety and security of our staff is our highest priority.’

NPA secretary-general Henriette Killi Westhrin said the organisation was devastated by the loss of two good colleagues.

‘Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to their families, relatives and staff.’

The NPA has 1850 deminers working in 19 countries worldwide.

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