A young person from Kukum Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Solomon Islands died on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in a bomb blast at Lengakiki Heights, West Honiara, when a 105-mm projectile left from World War II exploded unexpectedly.
Kukum youth leader Raziv Hilly, 29, succumbed to his injuries after being rushed to the National Referral Hospital in Honiara. Two others remain in hospital in critical condition, and one sustained minor injuries.
Reports stated that four young people were cooking food on a wood fire for a fundraiser when the incident occurred, unaware that the heat from the fire would trigger the underground bomb. The blast was heard miles away, local media outlets reported.
According to a news story posted by Solomon Star, Hilly was from Vella La Vella and Ranoggah in the Western Province and was a qualified aviation engineer and property manager. At the time of his passing, the newspaper reported, he was the acting chief operating officer overseeing all the domestic and international aviation projects in the Solomon Islands. “His passing is a huge loss to the ministry, government, the project, and the nation as a whole,” Trevor Veo, director of aviation for the government of the Solomon Islands, reportedly said.
Tributes have flowed in across social media, remembering Hilly for his bright smile and cheerful spirit, dedication as a leader to youth ministry, and service to God. “You have influenced everyone around you with your bubbly self,” Misileti Maulolo Faaumuumu, a friend from Fiji, wrote on Facebook. “You were always happy, and it was a pleasure knowing you as a friend.… Rest in God’s arms, my friend, until that glorious morning.”
The government’s Ministry of Aviation and Communication also expressed its sincere condolences.
Solomon Islands was the scene of fierce fighting between Allied forces and the Japanese during World War II. According to RNZ News, large areas of the Solomon Islands are littered with debris from WWII, including many unexploded bombs that continue to kill and maim local residents 75 years later.
The incident follows the death of two people in Honiara in September 2020 due to a similar explosion.