The town of Bath found a WWII bomb will soon be surrounded by a 250-ton sand blast barrier as police in the U.K. evacuated the city. The 500 pound unexploded device was from inside a school playground, and experts are planning to destroy it outside the city.
The 250-ton sand blast barrier is currently ready and built around the device by the military before they remove its fuse, the Daily Mail reports. It will then be transported under a police escort to a safe place for a controlled explosion to be carried out.
Experts hope to move Bath’s WWII bomb from its current site during the early evening. Avon and Somerset Police said they were called to the Royal High School, known locally as Hope House, when contractors digging at the site found the 500 pound WWII bomb.
Sections of the town is roped off while residents are taken to Bath Racecourse, the city’s Guildhall and Pavilion. Some residents have chosen to remain in their homes near the WWII bomb.
The local Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit is assessing the situation and is at the scene, working to make the device safe to move. Police have warned residents it could take up to 48 hours.
Chief Superintendent Ian Smith said everyone was working hard to get the matter resolved before sunset on Friday. “Currently the military are still on site. They are building a device around the site with 250 tons of sand,” he said. “Hopefully at some point today they will be satisfied with their experts that they can then move the device with our escort out of the city to somewhere safe so that it can be safely destroyed.”
Dulcie Carey, who was forced to spend the night at a friend’s house, said the news of Bath’s WWII bomb discovery came as a “massive shock.” She finished work at 11pm and only found out by word-of-mouth that she could not get home. “It is just a nightmare. We can’t do anything really. We’re stuck,” Carey said.
Road closures have been put in place, with motorists advised to find alternative routes. Bath and North East Somerset Council said other schools close to the police line may be affected, the Racing Post reported.
Up to 1,000 homes have been evacuated near the WWII bomb site as residents try to find other places to stay. The EOD team is on site talking to neighbors.
“The EOD are currently building a barrier around the device using 250 tonnes of sand,” an EOD spokesman said. “Once this barrier is in place, they will remove the device with a police escort to a safe location away from the Bath area, where they will carry out a controlled explosion.”
He added that Bath residents “outside the exclusion zone” would be unable to re-enter for up to 48 hours, while those who remained inside the zone were being prevented from moving near the WWII bomb.
Robin Squire, from Acorn Properties which has been working on the school site, said there had been “a history of bombs in the area” and “all the relevant surveys” had been carried out. “It was actually in an area we wouldn’t expect to find anything - not that we necessarily expect to find a bomb,” he said. “But people on site were warned what to look for and then basically we had to put the situation in the hands of the police and the Army.”
Bob Lawrence, who stayed overnight at Bath racecourse, said he had been looked after “very well.” “I was walking back from the pub - up Lansdown Road - and the people in front of us got turned back by the police but we took another route home,” he said. “At about 9 o’clock we got a knock on the door and the police advised to evacuate. A couple of our neighbours decided to stay there but the rest of us moved out.”
But Glyn, who lives about 150 yards away from where the WWII bomb is, decided to remain at home. “To be fair the bomb’s been there for 70 years,” he said. “I’ve lived long enough with that bomb next to me and if it was going to go off, it would have gone off by now.”
The New York Times said Bath’s WWII bomb was part of the Baekdeker raids by the German air force in which targets were chosen due to their cultural and historical status. The Bath Blitz took place in April 1942.