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Bomb Squad Called To Chip Factory As Grenade Is Mistaken For ‘Muddy Potato’

by : Emily Brown on :
Bomb Squad Called To Chip Factory As Grenade Is Mistaken For ‘Muddy Potato’
Bomb Squad Called To Chip Factory As Grenade Is Mistaken For ‘Muddy Potato’ (Alamy)

A bomb squad had to be called to a chip factory in New Zealand after an object resembling a 'muddy potato' turned out to be a grenade.

Richard Teurukura was working on the night shift at East Tāmaki Mr Chips factory on Tuesday (5 April) when he spotted an unusual sight at the 'potato reception area', where potatoes destined for the factory move from the delivery trucks to a conveyor belt.

Teurukura was on the hunt for stones as he scoured the potatoes, as the small objects are often picked up from the field as part of the harvesting process, and he initially appeared to be successful as he grabbed an object he believed to be a large stone.

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The grenade was spotted on a conveyor belt. Credit: Alamy
The grenade was spotted on a conveyor belt. Credit: Alamy

After pulling off the excess mud, however, he saw grooves had been carved into the object and recognised it was in fact neither a potato or a stone. After calling over a colleague who had 'seen a lot of war movies', it was identified as a grenade.

The device had been delivered by a truck among 28 tonnes of Ranger Russet potatoes harvested from a Matamata farm, and an investigation later determined it to be a training version of a Mills bomb; a common World War II hand grenade, which contained no explosives.

Workers called the police and sought to secure the situation by placing taping off the area around the device. Police in turn called in the New Zealand Defence Force’s explosive ordnance disposal team, who x-rayed the grenade and determined it was a dud.

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Roland Spitaels, the operations manager of the factory, told Stuff the device 'Iooked very much like a muddy potato originally' and praised his staff for remaining 'calm and collected'.

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"I think it’s quite remarkable he did pick it up, hats off to him [Teurukura] for keeping his cool about the whole thing. The guys took the right safety precautions but there was still extreme interest," he added.

Spitaels assured the grenade would have been removed at some point even if it hadn't been spotted by Teurukura, explaining the factory has a 'whole cleaning process'. He said the police sergeant who responded to the scene had told him it was only the second grenade discovered in 10 years, though historian Glyn Harper said the Mills bomb was common, with a training version given to every Home Guard unit in the country.

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The grenade is now being held by police, who are conducting an investigation into the device, but Spitaels hopes he will be able to put it in the factory’s trophy room, as he noted the discovery of the device made for a 'more interesting night than we normally have'.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University before going on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems. She joined UNILAD in 2018 and now works as Senior Journalist covering breaking news, trending stories and longer form features with a focus on human interest stories.

Topics: News, New Zealand, World News, Food and Drink, Life