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Bermondsey bomb: Unexploded WWII device causes chaos in London after being dug up by builders

Army engineers in the Bermondsey area of south London are working to make safe an unexploded WWII bomb.

London’s Tower Bridge was shut to traffic after the unexploded device was dug up by builders.

Construction workers on a site in The Grange alerted police shortly after the discovery at 9.15am on Monday.

The huge explosive is believed to be around 5ft long and 1,000lbs in weight.

Hundreds of people were evacuated from flat blocks on large estates surrounding the site and two schools had to be shut as a precaution.

As the Metropolitan Police’s bomb squad rushed to the scene, officers put in a 400 metre exclusion zone, closing some of London’s busiest roads.

Tower Bridge was shut in both directions as traffic jammed north and south of the River Thames and stricken bus passengers reported miles of queues.

The London Fire Brigade, who sent specialist units to the scene, said it has attended incidents involving seven unexploded bombs and five hand grenades in the capital over the last five years.

Southwark Council warned that residents returning from work may not be allowed home on Monday evening and said rest centres had been set up in a nearby library and leisure centre.

“Traffic is still being diverted from the wider area and this is causing considerable congestion in the Tower Bridge/Grange area,” a spokesperson said.

“We would advise people to stay away from the area if at all possible, especially at rush hour.

“We are awaiting more information about next steps once a comprehensive assessment of the bomb can be carried out.”

Bermondsey was one of the most heavily bombed areas of Britain during the Second World War, with 709 civilians killed and thousands more hurt according to local authorities records.

It was targeted because of its industry, proximity to the busy London docklands and main railway supply lines.

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