As It Happens

Unexploded 450 kilo WWII-era bomb causes evacuation in London, England

When a construction crew in London, England accidentally stumbled upon a 1,000-pound (450 kg) unexploded Second World War bomb on Monday, the situation was demurely described by police as a "big fuss."
Army bomb disposal experts called to defuse WW2 bomb in London. (Sergeant Rupert Frere RLC/British Army)
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When a construction crew in London, England accidentally stumbled upon a 1,000-pound (450 kg) unexploded Second World War bomb on Monday, the situation was demurely described by police as a "big fuss."

Part of the "fuss" included the closure of the nearby Tower Bridge and the evacuation of about 1,200 residents from their homes that were within a 220-yard radius of the bomb.

On Monday, we spoke with Tim Carter, whose home was within the bomb's radius.

An unexploded World War II bomb was found in the Bermondsey, Southwark area of London today, a neighbourhood near the Tower Bridge. The bomb is more than 1000 lbs and houses in the area have been evacuated. 6:00
  

Fortunately, by tea time the next day, the all-clear was sounded as British Army engineers successfully defused the bomb.

A full look at the unexploded WWII-era bomb. (Sergeant Rupert Frere, Royal Logistic Corp/British Army)

"I think a number of the residents will be extremely relieved," Ben Johnson, councillor for the London borough of Southwark where the bomb was discovered, tells As It Happens host Carol Off.  "Those who were within [220] metres of the bomb... haven't been back to their homes since early yesterday morning when they were evacuated (from their homes) by the police."

Army engineers worked through the night inside a makeshift bunker around the bomb.

 
Royal Engineers built a bunker around the bomb for Royal Logistic Corp disposal experts to defuse. (Sergeant Rupert Frere, Royal Logistic Corp/British Army)

“"The army bomb disposal team removed two fuses from the bomb; they deactivated those,” Johnson says. “They then [took] them away to Kent, at a site which I'm told is frequently used for disposing of explosives.”

The defused bomb was put into a vehicle and driven away to another location. (Courtesy of Ben Johnson for As It Happens)

During the Second World War, southeast London was the hub of industry and commerce -- and as a result, the area was heavily bombed.

“It is highly likely -- not that anyone should be panicked -- that there are other bombs there as yet undiscovered,” Johnson adds. “Which, as far as I can tell, are safe until they're disturbed.”

The London Fire Brigade reports that it has defused seven Second World War-era bombs in the city between 2009 and 2014.

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