STRATHROY -- A country creek where children swim, fish and frolic was instead swarmed by police yesterday as Canadian Forces explosives experts detonated two live landmines.
The mines, found in a culvert that runs under Inadale Drive between Strathroy and Mt. Brydges, appeared to have timers and were likely the type used to blow up tanks, Strathroy-Caradoc police say.
One mine was discovered by two girls Friday. They called police, and a second mine was found yesterday morning, only one metre away from the first.
Unsure if more mines are hidden nearby, Strathroy police asked the OPP to conduct a sweep. It was to have been done by dusk yesterday.
The creek is popular with families, so police suspect the mines were put there to maim and kill, or in callous disregard of that possibility.
"The senseless loss of life or grievous bodily harm that could have taken place at this creek -- it's reprehensible," Strathroy-Caradoc police Sgt. Mike Overdulve said.
The potential for devastation was evident yesterday as a military team detonated the mines from a safe distance.
The force of the blast ripped bark and limbs from a tree and sprayed water so high it could be seen by observers a kilometre away.
"I could feel the percussive force," Overdulve said, "It was 100 times louder than any fireworks you ever heard."
Seven centimetres thick and 25 centimetres in diameter, the mines appear to be the kind used to disable tanks.
"We can't definitively prove that, but that is the direction we are leaning," Overdulve said.
After the detonation, the explosives experts found debris "consistent with timers," he said.
The first mine was found Friday afternoon by nearby resident Lynn Denning, who walked to the creek with her two teenage daughters so that their yellow lab, Jesse, could enjoy the cold water.
"It's upsetting," she said.
While Inadale is a two-lane country road, many residents cross the culvert to commute to London, Denning said.
"There's quite a lot of traffic during the week," said Denning, who commutes to work at London Health Sciences Centre.
The family called Strathroy-Caradoc police, who sought help from the OPP, who called in the explosive ordinance disposal team from CFB Base Borden.
The explosives team left its base 100 kilometres north of Toronto at 6:20 a.m. yesterday.
"We responded quickly -- we take this matter quite seriously," said Capt. Cheryl Swarbrick, a base spokesperson.
Their presence was soon felt and heard on a normally quiet, tree-lined road.
"I've seen hand grenades and ammunition, but I never encountered anything like this," Overdulve said.
Until a year ago, Overdulve lived near the creek, taking his three kids there to fish so often, they called it "crayfish creek."
"This area is typically occupied by children, who come here to play," he said.
POLICE SEEK WITNESSES
Anyone who has recently been to the creek beneath Inadale Road between Strathroy and Mt. Brydges, or has seen anyone acting suspiciously near the creek, is asked to call Strathroy-Caradoc police at 519-245-1250.
Click to view image: '78895-landmine.jpg'
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