World War I is still claiming lives in Flanders, Belgium. The towns Ypres and Passendale were the scenes of major WWI battles, ground zero for the Western Front. Here is my rough translation from the French of a story in the Brussels “Metro” paper of 20 March 2014:
TWO DEAD IN EXPLOSION OF BURIED SHELL
Ypres – Two workers died yesterday [19 March 2014] after the explosion of a shell in the course of working on an excavation at Ypres, according to Mayor Jan Durenz and the press service of the Department of Defense. Another worker is in critical condition.
The accident happened at a construction worksite in an industrial zone. At about 1 pm, the workers struck a shell which exploded.
The Service for the Removal and Destruction of Explosive Engines (SEDEE) has gone to the scene.
At the beginning of the month, a large number of munitions were discovered at the border of Passendale and Moorslede. The SEDEE is now working in that zone.
(The piece goes on to say that there are still thousands of explosive shells in that region of Flanders. It does not say, but we have been reading, that 500 shells were discovered within the last few weeks. Half of them have poison gas that is still quite dangerous. They were abandoned by the Germans at the end of the war in 1918).
These deaths are not an isolated occurrence but something which happens periodically in Belgium.