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Engine trouble forced an American pilot to detonate a disarmed nuclear bomb over the St. Lawrence River 50 years ago, Defence Minister Art Eggleton has revealed.

At the time, Canadian government officials claimed the incident merely involved three conventional 225-kilogram bombs.

The pilot, flying a B-50 bomber from Goose Bay, Nfld., to the United States on Jan. 10, 1950, experienced engine trouble near Rivière-du-Loup in Quebec's lower St. Lawrence region.

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Needing to shed some cargo, he looked 3,300 metres below and checked his radar to determine that no boats were sailing nearby, Mr. Eggleton said in a letter to Bloc Québécois MP Paul Crête that Quebec City's Le Soleil newspaper obtained.

The pilot then dropped a 2,000-kilogram Mark IV nuclear bomb, which contained explosives but lacked its nuclear component.

Mr. Eggleton's letter came in response to Mr. Crête's request for the information. CP

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