The Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) confirmed that two of its employees were killed in the explosion and identified the men as British citizen Stephen “Luke” Atkinson and Australian citizen Trent Lee.
The charity is working with the Solomon Islands Police Bomb Disposal Team to develop a database that maps unexploded ordnance from World War II.
The Solomon Islands were the site of a major military campaign for the Pacific, and its islands are littered with thousands of unexploded bombs left over from the conflict.
Police said Honiara National Hospital’s referral staff confirmed that two foreigners had died in the blast.
The NPA, which operates in 19 countries around the world, said it had suspended operations in the Solomon Islands and was working with the police investigation.
“We are also devastated by the loss of two good colleagues. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go to their families, relatives and employees,” said NPA Secretary-General Henrietta Kili Westrin.
The police investigation into the explosion and why it exploded in a residential area continues. Police said they sent officers to the scene Sunday night and sealed the area.
“EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) officers will need to ensure the safety of the scene before RSIPF detectives and other investigators enter the scene to find out what happened,” said Inspector Clifford Tunuki, EOD’s OIC.
“I can confirm that none of the RSIPF EOD employees were at the scene when the bomb exploded, despite the fact that we are working with the project.”
The team surveyed, in which the two men were part, confirmed the location of unexploded bombs after reports from the local community. They pass this information to the police, who then determine what to do with the bombs, Tunuki said.
“On behalf of the RSIPF, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family and relatives of these two foreign nationals who died in this tragic incident,” he said.
Remains of the war
The NPA said the Solomon Islands remained heavily contaminated by explosive remnants of the war and ammunition continued to kill or seriously injure local people.
Guadalcanal, the island where the capital Honiara is located, was the site of one of the most significant battles of World War II in the Pacific.
The US Marines attacked Japanese forces on the island in 1942 in a campaign that led to the first major Allied victory over Japan and a turning point in the war.
According to US military history, nearly 1,600 Americans and nearly 15,000 Japanese were killed on Guadalcanal.
CNN’s Brad Landon contributed to this report.