UK

Ministry of Defence confirms 500kg bomb found in Plymouth detonated at sea

More than 10,000 people were evacuated from the area during the explosives operation.

Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) of the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team leaving the slip to Torpoint Ferry as they dispose of the WWII bomb discovered in Keyham in Plymouth on Friday
Plymouth incident Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) of the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team leaving the slip to Torpoint Ferry as they dispose of the WWII bomb discovered in Keyham in Plymouth on Friday (LPhot Barry Swainsbury/MOD Crown copyright/PA)

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed a Second World War bomb that forced thousands to evacuate in Plymouth has been detonated at sea.

An MoD spokeswoman told the PA news agency the bomb had been “detonated successfully at 9.51pm”.

The 500kg explosive was discovered in a back garden on Tuesday, which prompted “one of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations”, according to the MoD.

Around 30 of the armed forces’ most experienced bomb disposal specialists had worked around the clock to assess the condition of the device since it was discovered in St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area of Plymouth.

On Friday, a military convoy carried the unexploded bomb on the back of a truck from the garden through a densely populated residential area to Torpoint Ferry slipway, where it was taken out to sea.

Emergency workers gathered in Plymouth before the Second World War explosive was taken from a local garden and disposed of at sea on Friday
Plymouth incident Emergency workers gathered in Plymouth before the Second World War explosive was taken from a local garden and disposed of at sea on Friday (Ben Birchall/PA)

Around 10,320 people and 1,219 properties were affected by the 300m cordon placed along the route.

The MoD said the munition, identified as an air-dropped German bomb from the Second World War – designated SC-500 – was assessed as posing a significant risk to public safety with people living within the cordon evacuated.

Plymouth Second World War bomb: route of convoy (Press Association Images)

More than 100 personnel from the British Army and Royal Navy, including bomb disposal experts, were involved in the complex operation along with Plymouth City Council officials, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Devon and Cornwall Police and members of the armed forces, to ensure the device was removed and people were safe.

Lt Colonel Rob Swan, who was at the scene, explained before the detonation that the bomb would be taken to a depth of at least 14 metres before a diver would place a donor charge on the bomb to ignite the explosive.

On Friday at 5.32pm, town hall chiefs declared the operation a “success” telling residents “you can now return to your homes in Keyham”.

A military vehicle seen in Plymouth, where residents were evacuated and a cordon was put in place following the discovery of a WWII bomb
Plymouth incident A military vehicle seen in Plymouth, where residents were evacuated and a cordon was put in place following the discovery of a WWII bomb (Ben Birchall/PA)

Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps thanked the personnel who had been involved in the “highly complex operation”.

Mr Shapps said: “I would like to express my thanks to all our personnel involved in this highly complex operation, who worked both night and day this week to keep the public safe and minimise the risk of damage, as well as the public for their patience and cooperation.

“The success of this operation is testament to the level of skill and expertise across our armed forces, as well as the bravery and fortitude of our personnel when faced with high-risk situations and working under extreme pressure.”