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Unexploded WWII bomb moved through Plymouth after homes evacuated

Military convoy takes 500kg device through streets after homes evacuated

Barney Davis,Jane Dalton
Saturday 24 February 2024 00:27 GMT
Police say unexploded WWII bomb will be removed from Plymouth to be destroyed

A military convoy transported a Second World War bomb through the streets of Plymouth on Friday after hundreds of homes were evacuated for the risky operation.

Soldiers moved the unexploded device through the city to take where it was detonated at sea last night.

A major incident was declared on Wednesday after the bomb was found buried in a back garden in St Michael Avenue by a man helping to build an extension at his daughter’s home.

Plymouth Council told an estimated 3,250 residents to leave their properties in what was officially described as one of the largest evacuations in the country since the war.

The 500kg bomb was taken to the sea near Torpoint Ferry slipway.

A “severe” government alert was sent to residents’ phones, warning them to stay away from the route of the disposal convoy between 2pm and 5pm on Friday.

The bomb was loaded onto a military vehicle (PA)

According to the Ministry of Defence, the ordanance was an SC500 transverse-fused airdrop weapon.

Ian Regan, who received a government alert on his phone urging him to leave his home which was 10m away from the convoy route, told Sky News: “It was scary. We put the cats in the boxes and got to my father’s spare bedroom. It is very stressful. The greatest fear is that it could go off any time.”

He added that residents were let back into homes to move furniture and valuables out before the bomb was moved.

The Luftwaffe Resource Centre describes the SC 500 as a “general demolition bomb” 203 centimetres (80 inches) in length in total, weighing in at 500kg with 220kg filling. The filling is described as “40/60 or 50/50 Amatol TNT, trialene”.

A local mechanic told Sky News “It’s been a very scary moment for myself, my wife and three children.

“[The reaction’s] unbelievable and very scary as we live yards from the scene.”

The Severe Alert text message sent to local resident (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

By late afternoon on Friday, after the removal operation was over, evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes.

The council said: “We have been notified by the military that operation has been a success and the bomb has been removed.

“We can now start removing the cordon so people who have been evacuated can return to their homes.”

An ordnance disposal expert in Keyham, after homes in the area were evacuated (Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View, thanked emergency responders.

He wrote on social media: “A huge thank you and massive respect to all the Police, coastguard, military, mountain rescue, Plymouth City Council staff and multiple volunteers who have worked around the clock to deal with this bomb in Keyham.

“I expect all 10,000 evacuated residents to return this evening.”

Here is the map of the convoy route and cordon (Plymouth Council)

The man who discovered the bomb told Plymouth Live he was helping prepare the groundwork in the back garden of his daughter’s property for an extension when he found it.

Plymouth City Council’s leader Tudor Evans said everyone involved in the response to the bomb’s discovery in Keyham has been extraordinary, saying the incident had brought out the best in Plymouth.

Giles Perritt, assistant chief executive Plymouth City Council, said more than 1,000 staff and officers had been involved in the operation.

He said: “Today is the result of an enormous amount of planning.

“You won’t be surprised to hear that officers and partners have been working around the clock since this incident started to come up with the best and safest solution to deal with this device.”

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