Londoners are being urged to “keep calm and carry on" as the British Army defuses a 5ft bomb from the Second World War dug up on a building site.
Tower Bridge was closed yesterday as more than 1,200 homes were evacuated following the discovery in Bermondsey.
Construction workers on a site in The Grange discovered the huge explosive, which weighs 1,000lbs and has a tail, at around 9.15am.
It was buried two or three metres below the ground until it was hit by a construction vehicle at the site of the former Southwark Irish Pensioners Centre.
Lucas Green, a local councillor, tweeted: “Seems our OAPs are hard as nails, drinking tea on top of a 1,000lb bomb for 70 years.”
Hundreds of people were evacuated from flat blocks on large estates surrounding the site and two schools had to be shut as a precaution.
Mr Green, who represents Grange ward, described the “unusual atmosphere” after police cleared the streets.
“It’s a sunny day, and the roads are deserted,” he added. “People don't know what's happening.
“They should just keep calm and carry on, as they would say in the Blitz.”
Tower Bridge was closed in both directions as traffic jammed north and south of the River Thames and stricken bus passengers reported miles of queues.
A man calling LBC radio to question Boris Johnson this morning said a "seven-minute journey" had taken him two hours and called for an "army of traffic wardens" to keep cars moving.
"If people can envisage a Nazi munition the size of (presenter) Nick Ferrari, that's what we're talking about," the Mayor of London added. "It's a huge bomb and we can't take any risks with the thing."
Mr Johnson said the bomb may be taken to Kent when it can be safely removed to be blown up.
Some people were let back into their homes overnight but hundreds more evacuations started this morning as work continued to make the unexploded bomb safe.
Police knocked on doors for 200m around the site throughout the night to enforce an exclusion zone starting at 8am so the Ministry of Defence could diffuse the bomb to prepare it for removal.
Britain during WWII - in pictures
Britain during WWII - in pictures
1939: A squadron of Spitfires took part in mimic 'air alarms', during a speed demonstration at Duxford Aerodrome
1939: British railway workers fit floodgates below river level at Underground Stations
1939: A patient on a stretcher is loaded into a Green-Line coach ambulance when being evacuated from Guy's Hospital in London
1939: Metropolitan Police Constables wearing gas masks line up to enter a mobile gas chamber at East Ham Police Station, London
1939: A young female British Navy officer sitting astride a minesweeper's cannon and lighting a cigarette whilst two officers look on
1939: Schoolchildren crowd Ealing Broadway Station in London, some of the first youngsters to be evacuated to the country during World War II
1940: Bells rescued from the belfry of St Giles in Cripplegate, London, which was bombed during a night raid
1940: A projector, operating from its sunken sandbagged emplacement, at a searchlight station in the London area
1940: Auxiliary Territorial Services personnel sealing and preparing a Churchill tank for export to the Soviet Union
1940: An Australian soldier leaps from a tank during training exercises in Britain
1940: A man flies a Union Jack on a bomb site. The area was bombed twice, and the second time it tore the flag in two
1941: A policeman coaxing his pony to leave an area which is being evacuated due to the discovery of an unexploded bomb
1941: Charles de Gaulle (C), Chief of the French Free Forces, inspects the French colonial troops during during his visit of a military base in Great Britain
1941: US politician Wendell Willkie viewing the bomb damage to the Guildhall during the Blitz, London
1941: Men, women and children stand with their belongings on a pavement in Clydeside, in the aftermath of a severe bombing raid
1941: The famous American 'Eagle' Volunteer Air Squadron, formed during WWI, takes its place in the ranks of the RAF
1942: Work in progress of the decks of almost completed ships, being built for the merchant navy
1942: Two London buses passing through thick smoke screens during Civil Defence Service training operations
1942: A British ship (either the Cathay or the Karanja) on fire in Bougie Harbour (Bejaia), during the North African 'torch' landings. The Luftwaffe bombed three of the Allied ships as they attempted to reach shore
1943: American soldiers viewing some of London's raid damage during a tour
1943: A crashed German Messerschmitt is towed past the Houses of Parliament in London
1943: The wreckage of Sandhurst Road School in Catford, south London, the day after it was partially destroyed in a German bombing raid
1944: Extensive manoeuvres for invasion being carried out by American Sherman tank units in Britain
1944: Rescue workers searching through the rubble of a block of flats destroyed by German raids in London
1944: Bomb damaged buildings in London's Pall Mall after an air raid
1945: British officers liberated by the 9th Army from Brunswick Oflag 79, the largest British officers' camp in Germany
1945: Essex-class fleet carrier USS Franklin after suffering a hit by a Japanese dive-bomber off Japan, during war in the Pacific
1945: The scene in Farringdon Road, London, after a V-2 rocket had fallen in daylight on the Central Markets
1945: VE day, held to commemorate the official end of Britain's involvement in World War II, is celebrated by crowds at Trafalgar Square in London
1945: Soldiers from the Women's Royal Army Corps in their service vehicle, driving through Trafalgar Square during the VE Day celebrations in London
Chief Superintendent Zander Gibson, borough commander for Southwark, thanked people for their patience while the operation was carried out.
He added: “We are working with Southwark Council, and other partner agencies to ensure the disruption for local people is kept to a minimum, but unfortunately some disruption is unavoidable when dealing with an incident such as this.
“We apologise for disturbing people in the middle of the night but it's the only way we can ensure we are reaching everyone by 8am.
“We are working with the London Ambulance Service and Southwark Council to identify any vulnerable residents who need assistance and will ensure they receive the care they need during this process.
“As soon as the bomb has been made safe by our colleagues in the Army we will do what we can to tell people it is safe to go home.”
A spokesperson for Southwark Council said the 200m cordon was expected to stay in place until late this afternoon, closing any schools in the vicinity.
Evacuated residents have been offered emergency accommodation at the nearby at Seven Islands Leisure Centre “as a last resort”.
Traffic disruption will be less severe today as the smaller 200m cordon has allowed Tower Bridge and the main roads leading to it to remain open. Residential roads around the scene are still shut and diversions are in place.
The London Fire Brigade, who sent specialist units to the scene, said it has attended incidents involving seven unexploded bombs and five hand grenades in the capital between 2009 and 2014.
Bermondsey was one of the most heavily bombed areas of Britain during the Second World War, with 709 civilians killed and thousands more hurt according to local authority records.
It was targeted because of its industry, proximity to the busy London docklands and main railway supply lines.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content