US jets dropped bombs on Great Barrier Reef

CANBERRA. July 21. KAZINFORM - US fighter jets dropped inert bombs on the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's coast during a training exercise that went wrong, it has emerged, BBC reports.

The two planes jettisoned four bombs in more than 50m (165 ft) of water, away from coral, to minimise damage to the World Heritage Site, the US navy said. The jets had intended to drop at a bombing range on a nearby island, but Tuesday's mission was aborted. The AV-8B Harriers were low on fuel and could not land loaded, the navy added.

The emergency happened during the training exercise Talisman Saber, involving US and Australian military personnel.

The two jets had been instructed to target the bombing range on Townshend Island. However, the mission was aborted when hazards were reported in the area. The planes then dropped the bombs in the marine park off the coast of Queensland. None of the devices exploded.

Each bomb weighed 500lb (226kg), according to the US TV network NBC. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral structure rich in marine life.

It stretches for more than 2,600km (1,680 miles) along Australia's eastern coast.

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