Unexploded WWII Bomb Evacuates Thousands in Plymouth: Bomb Squad Prepares for Removal

Plymouth, United Kingdom – Thousands of residents in Plymouth, United Kingdom, have been forced to evacuate their homes as bomb disposal experts prepare to remove an unexploded Second World War bomb discovered in a residential back garden. The discovery of the 500kg German bomb, known as an unexploded ordnance (UO), prompted Devon and Cornwall Police to declare a major incident, leading to the evacuation of over 3,000 people from properties within a 309-meter radius of the bomb site.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) identified the bomb as a SC500 transverse fuzed airdrop weapon, commonly used by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War for general demolition purposes. Expert Andy Abbott, a former Army Reserve bomb unit member, highlighted the significance of such bombs still being found today, pointing out the potential risks and challenges associated with their disposal.

The bomb was unearthed by a resident while excavating the foundation for an extension in the garden of a property on St Michael Avenue in Keyham. Despite being initially unsure of the object’s nature, the resident reported the finding to the authorities, leading to a swift response from the police and subsequent evacuation of the area. The bomb disposal operation involves a multi-agency effort, including the Royal Navy’s bomb disposal unit, military personnel, and various search and rescue teams.

Efforts to safely remove the bomb include considerations for a controlled detonation on-site, which ultimately led to the decision to transport the bomb via a military convoy to be disposed of at sea. The complex operation involves carefully lifting the bomb onto a truck, surrounded by protective sandbags, and securing it for transportation to the disposal site. Sand and water barriers are also utilized to mitigate potential explosions during the transport process.

The evacuation measures affect over 1,200 properties and approximately 3,250 individuals, with residents encouraged to seek shelter with friends and family. While some residents are permitted brief visits to retrieve essential items, the majority remain displaced until the bomb disposal operation is completed. Local authorities are providing updates and support services to impacted residents, ensuring their safety and well-being during the crisis.

Similar incidents have occurred in Plymouth in the past, underscoring the city’s historical legacy of wartime bombings. The current operation highlights the ongoing challenges of dealing with unexploded ordnances, necessitating a coordinated response from various agencies to ensure public safety and secure the timely disposal of the bomb.