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'Collectors' keeping Civil War bombs as 'souvenirs' are putting their lives at risk, warns explosives squad
thinkSPAIN , Sunday, October 20, 2013

ABOUT a thousand unexploded bombs dating back to the Spanish Civil War are found in various parts of the country every year, say police, but the most dangerous ones are those kept in people's houses as 'memorabilia'.

When a bomb is found, Guardia Civil officers from the GEDEX explosives expert unit blow them up in controlled conditions as a precaution, and as yet no reports in recent times have been heard of injuries or property damage in these cases.

But in numerous cases, instead of advising the police, people who find mortar grenades, projectiles or – on rarer occasions – aviation bombs, take them home and keep them as 'souvenirs' or 'pieces of history'.

This is highly dangerous, because there is still every chance the bomb may explode even though it remained undetected since the mid-to-late 1930s until found by the 'collector'.

Just because they are 70 or 80 years old does not mean they are no longer hazardous, says the GEDEX squad – on the contrary, since their built-in security devices have now failed over the passage of time.

A recent incident in the town of San Martín de la Vega, in the greater Madrid region, saw a resident suffer serious injuries after tampering with an artillery projectile dating back from 1936 and which had been kept by the victim as a 'collectors' item'.

However 'old and worn out' the explosive device found appears to be, they are still every bit as dangerous as when they were first dropped or launched, because they were 'designed to maim or kill', the bomb squad stresses.

Although findings of Civil War explosives are comparatively rare, in the event of finding one, the person who sees it should call the emergency services immediately and, if possible, mark its location with sticks or stones.

They should never go near the bomb – keeping a distance of several hundred metres if they can or as far away as possible, at least – and certainly never touch it or tamper with it.

Even where the finder has had experience with deactivating bombs or knows something about the theory of doing so, they should not attempt to do anything with the artefact – nor should the person finding the device listen to or heed any advice of this nature from bystanders who claim to know about them.

GEDEX members advise against keeping such artefacts or any parts of them as memorabilia as this can result in serious and life-threatening injury or damage.

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