From several sources a couple of weeks ago.
Unexploded munitions from both World Wars lurk, barely buried, particularly in northern regions of Europe. Sadly, this is not a rare occurrence even a century after that first conflict.
The reason I bring attention to this recent incident is simply that I visited Ypres (Ieper) in 2009 for the triennial Cat Festival. This explosion occurred at a construction site, so I’m assuming it was at least a little distance away from the old town center – I haven’t been able to find out where along the Ypres Canal this happened. The other reason this deserves to be highlighted is that, with 2014 the beginning of the centennial observation of WWI, there may be lots more people touring battle sites; the war’s death toll was obscene enough; we don’t want to add to it.
When I traveled to Croatia a couple of years ago, guidebooks pointed out that hiking away from marked paths could turn deadly because there are still areas of that country which have not been cleared of land mines laid during their war in the early 1990s. The thought that bombs, grenades and other nasty war materiel is still lying around, LIVE, one hundred years after they were dropped, is sickening. The statistics quoted in the first link above, stating how many tons of this potentially fatal garbage are discovered and handled each year in Belgium, are staggering.
Best to stick to heavily populated parts of these towns (read some of the comments in this link) when you go and use reputable guided tours of the battlefields. With live munitions still kicking around, it makes one wonder about re-enacting battles from these wars, doesn’t it?
Final note – if you’re looking for packaged tours for the WWII Normandy anniversary (2014 is the 70th), I can absolutely recommend Tours International!