China on Tuesday claimed to have unearthed a large cache of explosives, abandoned by Japanese troops during World War II, from the base of a hill in Dunhua City in northeast China's Jilin Province.
The 3,500 bombs, still lethal and weighing more than 40 tonnes, were found buried in a rectangular pit at the foot of the hill in Dunhua's Shaheyan Township, which was once the site of a Japanese military airport, police said.
The bombs were discovered by three local farmers from Daqiao Township on June 3 using a metal detector to find scrap iron left by the Japanese troops, which they hoped to sell for money, the police said.
Experts from the local bomb disposal centre have said that if the largest one -- weighing around 35 kg -- exploded, people and livestock within a radius of at least five km could have been affected.
The Japanese bombs were transported to the centre for destruction, the Xinhua News Agency has reported.
Chinese official statistics show Japan abandoned at least two million tonnes of chemical weapons at about 40 sites in 15 provinces at the end of World War II, mostly in the three northeast provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
China and Japan joined the United Nations Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Two years later, they signed a memorandum obliging Japan to remove all weapons by June 2007 and provide all necessary funds, equipment and personnel for their retrieval and destruction.
But the Japanese government has asked for an extension of the disposal deadline to April 2012.