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Tiny Pacific island Nauru declares disaster ahead of WW2 bomb operation

Tiny Pacific island Nauru declares disaster ahead of WW2 bomb operation
A fisherman is pictured at sunset at the northern end of the airport runway on the small nation island of Nauru on April 15, 2010.
PHOTO: Reuters

Schools and workplaces on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru will close and areas will be evacuated on Thursday (July 20) while Australian army sappers try to defuse a 500-pound "armed and dangerous" World War Two-era bomb.

Acting President Martin Hunt has declared a state of disaster covering the whole of Nauru, one of the world's smallest nations with a land area of just 21 square kilometres and a diameter of five kilometres.

"The item is extremely dangerous so our key concern has been the safety of the people of Nauru as well as the vital infrastructure that supplies water and power that is in the immediate vicinity," commander Lieutenant Jordan Bell said in an Australian Defence Force statement.

Nauru's population of 11,000 live along a coastal strip just 150-300 metre wide.

On Thursday morning, a two kilometres area around the bomb will be evacuated as the Australian sappers try to disarm the fuse. Residents were advised to cover windows with blankets before they evacuate to prepare their homes for possible blast damage.

Hunt on Wednesday ordered schools to shut and prohibited work from Thursday morning as a precaution to manage any bomb impact.

"It is very unlikely an unintended detonation (explosion) will happen; however, if the bomb detonates, water, electricity and housing within the cordon may be damaged," the Nauru government warned residents.

Nauru is 4,500km from Australia, with infrequent air links. It was the scene of fighting between the United States and Japan in World War Two.

The unexploded bomb was discovered by construction workers working on utilities groundworks on July 7.

ALSO READ: Australia says discovery of World War II shipwreck ends 'tragic' maritime chapter

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