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WWII bomb to be moved in military convoy through city as new evacuation zones revealed

todayFebruary 23, 2024 4

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WWII bomb to be moved in military convoy through city as new evacuation zones revealed

An unexploded Second World War bomb found at a property in Plymouth will be removed and transported by military convoy through the city for disposal at sea.

Any resident of the Devon city living within 300 metres of the convoy route will need to evacuate their home between the hours of 2pm and 5pm this afternoon.

Photos from the site where the device was dug up show the size of the explosive, as homeowners were warned their homes would be “destroyed” if it detonated.

Around 3,000 people are still away from their homes while a 300-metre exclusion zone is maintained to keep the public safe.

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Updates as bomb removed by military convoy

Pic: FPS Images

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Pic: FPS Images

Bomb disposal experts say a controlled explosion was considered but ruled out.

The “safest and least impactful option” is to “remove the device from St Michael Avenue and travel to the Torpoint Ferry slipway – for the bomb to be disposed of at sea (beyond the Breakwater)”.

Plymouth City Council added: “Highly trained bomb disposal experts will carefully remove the device from the property and it will be transported by road in a military convoy, west along Parkside and Royal Navy Avenue, joining at the junction on Saltash Road to continue south joining Albert Road, turning right along Park Avenue and heading down Ferry Road to the Torpoint Ferry terminal.”

The exclusion zone around the evacuation route in Plymouth

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The exclusion zone around the evacuation route in Plymouth

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‘Everyone must avoid the area’

In a press conference this afternoon, Superintendent Phil Williams of Devon and Cornwall Police said the convoy would take about 20 minutes as it passed through the city to the sea.

Supt Williams was interrupted during his update by the sound of the government’s alert system sending notifications to mobile phones in the area.

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The alert sent to people in Plymouth

The police officer reiterated the convoy option had been deemed the “lowest risk” way to deal with the explosive device.

The main train line will also be closed during the operation to dispose of the bomb. Ferries, including the Torpoint Ferry, will be suspended and buses diverted, according to the council.

The council said “everyone must avoid the area” while the bomb is moved.

It added residents can call 01752 668000 if they need help or support.

The council added: “The rest centre at the Life Centre remains open to support people who do not have anywhere to go.”

Once the operation is complete, the police will begin to reopen the roads.

Plymouth evacuation radius

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A radius of 309 metres has been evacuated

 Pic:FPS Images

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The device was uncovered in a garden in Keyham. Pic: FPS Images

Owner warned ‘houses were going to be destroyed’

The owner of the property where the bomb was found on St Michael Avenue in Keyham previously said he was carrying out building works in his garden when the explosive was uncovered by rain.

He reported the possible explosive to Devon and Cornwall Police, who declared a “major incident” on Tuesday and evacuated properties within 200 metres.

In an update on Thursday morning, Plymouth Council said the cordon had been extended to 309 metres, affecting 1,219 properties and an estimated 3,250 people.

Royal Naval Bomb Disposal experts have since dug around the explosive and used a special device to assess it.

The man who found the device in his garden also told Plymouth Live he has been told to prepare for the worst-case scenario should the bomb explode.

“Last night my daughter and her two neighbours were brought together for a meeting where they were effectively told to prepare that all three houses were going to be destroyed,” he told the outlet on Thursday evening.

“We understand the EOD have carried out X-rays of the bomb and the fuses and sent off the information to a more senior bomb expert to analyse. I spoke with a major who said the decision on what they’ll do is being made much higher up.”

He added that his family and their neighbours have been allowed to enter the properties to gather their belongings.

Pic: FPS Images

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EOD crews have been at the site since Tuesday. Pic: FPS Images

Pic:FPS Images

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The property owner was warned his home could be destroyed if the device exploded. Pic: FPS Images

Hospital declares critical incident

On Thursday at 9pm, NHS Devon declared a critical incident over the Keyham bomb, with the health board – which includes Derriford Hospital – reassuring residents it is a “standard precautionary measure” to ensure it has the resources to deal with any potential aftermath of an explosion.

Plymouth City Council said in a statement: “Declaring critical incident status for the county’s health services can make it easier for local NHS partners to work together to take the necessary steps to manage NHS resources to meet local demands.”

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust is “separately, experiencing severe pressures on their services currently”, the council added.

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Pic: Plymouth council

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Evacuated residents have been sheltering at village halls and gyms. Pic: Plymouth City Council

A military vehicle at the scene near St Michael Avenue in  Plymouth.
Pic: PA

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No date for when residents can return to their homes has been set. Pic: PA

‘A very scary moment’

Sky News spoke to residents affected by the cordon, with a local mechanic from Wayne’s Mobile Mechanic Ltd saying “it’s been a very scary moment for myself, my wife and three children”.

When asked what the reaction of the community has been, he said: “It’s unbelievable and very scary as we live yards from the scene.”

A local mechanic from Keyham. Pic: supplied

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A local mechanic was evacuated with his wife and three children. Pic: Supplied

Plymouth saw more than 50 bombing attacks during the Second World War, and in 2011 an explosive device was unearthed by a workman at a building in Notte Street, near the city’s Hoe.

The device was made safe before it was moved to the seabed off Plymouth Sound, with an exclusion zone around it, before it was detonated in a controlled explosion by Royal Navy experts.

Written by: Newsroom

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