A 41-year-old Czech collector of World War II munitions died on October 26 when an item he discovered in Medvedie (Svidník district) exploded, the Sme daily wrote.
The man, who was from the Uherské Hradiště district, and some companions had reportedly been searching for ammunition with a metal detector, though his companions deny that and his widow told the daily she wasn’t aware of it. The explosion left a crater in the ground and damaged both some cars parked nearby and a building.
“He suffered massive injuries to his torso, upper and lower limbs, groin, burns on his face and on both arms,” a doctor who attended to the victim said. “He likely also had internal injuries that caused bleeding into the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The man died at the scene.”
Medvedie is in the Údolie smrti (Death Valley) and Dukla, which saw heavy fighting during World War II. Collectors often search the grounds there for munitions that they can sell illegally through the internet.
According to the daily, the deceased and his wife stayed with other Czechs at a local hostel. He searched for munitions using a metal detector while she picked mushrooms.
“We are deeply shocked,” said a man from Moravia who re-enacts battles from World War II in his free time. “We cannot understand what our colleague did. We were cleaning mushrooms and preparing our dinner. Suddenly, we heard a loud explosion. We ran out of the building to find him curled up and moaning with pain, all bloody.”
They told the daily that they had met the victim for the first time after arriving in the village.
“We do not know where he got the ammunition from,” one of them said. “I came here to collect magazines, buttons from uniforms, or other non-functional parts of gear and weaponry from German soldiers.”
On the night of the incident, police found a car with a Czech licence plate parked in a field near the explosion.
“Inside the car was several dozen kinds of infantry ammunition, a machine gun magazine with ammunition from World War II, a gun, an igniter from artillery shells, hand grenade and cartridges of post-war production, and other illegal ammo,” said Magdaléna Fečová, a spokesperson from the regional police headquarters in Prešov.
Anti-munitions experts from the Prešov police department responded to 101 cases of unexploded ammunition last year.
“Several weeks ago, someone brought some World War II-era ammunition to the district precinct,” a police spokesperson said. “It is dangerous because, though old, it is often functional and can explode.”
Police keep any ammunition under strict security measures before destroying it. Fečová said the biggest find so far in this region was a 250-kilogram air bomb found at a railway station in Prešov.
It was destroyed in the village of Brestov (Prešov district) in cooperation with experts from the Criminal Expertise Institute of the Police Presidium in Košice.