27 Feb 2003

Demining experts dispose of old shells in French Polynesia

3:43 pm on 27 February 2003

De-mining specialists in French Polynesia's Marquesas islands have blown up nine shells dating back to the beginning of last century.

Press reports say the shells are believed to have been fired by French naval vessels but failed to detonate, and were not lost or abandoned.

Three of them were part of the ornament of a monument on Nuku Hiva while another six were being used to decorate gardens.

The shells in question were being used by French forces since 1859 and in the early part of last century the cliffs of the archipelago were used for navy target practices.

The head of the de-mining team says with the fuses being live the shells continue to pose a risk.