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Hoax bomb woman thought Derry security alert was over

Sharon McCormack had just passed the bomb disposal robot when it exploded a hoax device. Picture taken from video footage by Sean Haslett
Seamus McKinney

A WOMAN who walked past a bomb disposal robot just seconds before a controlled explosion said she was lucky to escape injury.

Sharon McCormack, who lives at Glengalliagh Park in Derry with her son, believed a security operation had ended when she began to walk to her mother's home.

Twenty homes were evacuated after a suspicious object was discovered near Glengalliagh Park on Sunday evening. Army bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion before declaring the device an elaborate hoax.

However, seconds before the hoax device was blown up, Ms McCormack walked past. A video – captured by Sean Haslett – shows Ms McCormack walking past the bomb disposal robot just before the explosion.

She told The Irish News she did not cross any cordon or police tape.

"I usually go up to my mammy's on a Sunday night and I usually go up around half seven or so. I had to text my sister to tell her she could get through because she would normally collect me to give me a lift," she said.

"The police Jeep was outside from about five o'clock so around quarter to eight they left so I thought I'd go up now and get ready; I thought it was all over and I went down past it."

Ms McCormack said she was relieved to escape injury.

"I saw the machine but I still thought it was over; there was nothing cordoned off," she said.

"I saw nothing but up in Bloomfield (adjoining estate) there were a lot of people but I still never thought of anything."

Seconds after passing the robot, Ms McCormack said she heard a bang.

"There were wee bits of plastic or something falling down. I just kept walking and a police man came running down and said: 'Are you all right?' I said I was but I was kind of shaken," she said.

She added: "Then it was all over Facebook and I thought this is going to be terrible. I thought I'll never be able to show my face."

A police spokesman said several residents left their homes but some opted to remain.

“A resident left their home and walked past the suspicious object while attempts were ongoing to make the object safe. We spoke to the resident immediately after and, although she was shaken, she was uninjured,” he said.

The hoax bomb has been condemned by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP.

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