Two U.S. Marine Corps jets were forced to make an emergency jettison of four unarmed bombs into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park on Tuesday (July 16), according to two U.S. officials citing by U.S. broadcaster NBC.

The two AV-8B Harrier jets were reportedly conducting a training mission in which they were supposed to drop their bombs on a range on Townshend Island. However, according to the information obtained by NBC, the pilots were then told that the range was not clear. Their planes then began to run low on fuel, and needed to lose the extra weight from their bombs before they could land.

NBC reported that each of the Harriers dropped two 500-pound (226kg) bombs. Two of the bombs were inert, while the other two were unarmed when they were released. None of them exploded upon impact.

According to a U.S. official who spoke to NBC, it is very unlikely that any of the bombs could go off, and that the U.S. Navy was in the early stages of planning a salvage operation to recover the bombs.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef, and contains an abundance of diverse marine life that attracts large numbers of tourists from around the world every year.

Presented by Adam Justice

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