A shell explosion in Romania last week injured three logging workers, one mortally.

The World War II projectile was found at a logging site by the men. It is reported that one of the men struck the UXO with a hammer. 

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shell explosion Romania WWII
An unexploded WWII shell found in Romania, similar to the one that caused the three casualties

In 1944 the Russian Army pushed the German Army back into Romania. As a result, a number of battles were fought in the east of the country. Battlefields are usually contaminated with UXO and consequently war relic finds such as this are not uncommon.

Unexploded shells which exhibit diagonal imprinted grooves on the base of the round, as shown in the photograph above, are particularly dangerous. This is because the grooves confirm that the shell has been fired and therefore the fuse has failed and may now be in a delicate condition.

Are deaths by UXO common?

A shell explosion in Romania is not a common occurrence, with such incidents relatively infrequent across the continent. This is the result of relatively good education, lower levels of poverty, less fragile UXO types and, lower UXO concentrations.

The most heavily contaminated region in the world is Southeast Asia, where UXO related deaths are frequent. The U.S.A dropped millions of small, delicate cluster munitions during the Vietnam War and these are all too often mishandled by children.

Some 270 million of these small bomblets were dropped over Laos PDR alone, with approximately 80 million failing to detonate.