Operation to neutralise unexploded Second World War bomb will continue overnight
The device will be defused in a controlled explosion on Tuesday, the head of a Royal Navy diving unit said.
Police and Royal Navy teams will work through the night to transport the “powerful” 500kg Second World War bomb which has disrupted dozens of flights at London City Airport.
Bomb disposal experts will guide the 1.5m-long unexploded ordnance down the River Thames overnight using a flotation device, before attaching “high-grade military explosives” in a controlled explosion on Tuesday morning.
The German general purpose bomb was found grounded in the seabed 15 metres underwater at King George V Dock in east London on Sunday.
A 214-metre exclusion zone is in place and the airport will remain closed for the rest of the day, said Robert Sinclair, chief executive of London City Airport.
He said in a statement: “Any passengers due to fly today are urged not to come to the airport and to contact their airline for further information.
“I recognise this has caused inconvenience for our passengers, and in particular some of our local residents. The airport is co-operating fully with the Met Police, Royal Navy and London Borough of Newham to safely remove the device and resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”
The airport is expected to reopen on Tuesday, he added.
Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, officer in charge of the diving unit which is disposing of the ordnance, said the bomb is being transported overnight to minimise disruption.
It will be exploded underwater and is unlikely to detonate before it is neutralised by his team.
He told the Press Association: “There’s a long night ahead for quite a few people, not least my Royal Navy bomb disposal divers, using our tried-and-tested techniques to remove the threat.”
He added: “We assess that we’ve got good control, that the bomb is in relatively good condition and so it’s now that balance of yes, we want to take it away and remove it, but we want to make sure it’s done properly.”
UPDATED STATEMENT from Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport: “The airport will remain closed for the rest of the day, following the discovery of a World War Two ordnance in King George V Dock on Sunday. An exclusion zone is in place in the immediate area. (1/6)— London City Airport (@LondonCityAir) February 12, 2018
A local couple who only gave their names as the Kullers said they were woken up at 2am by officers “banging on our door” asking them to evacuate.
The corner shop owners told the Press Association: “They’re just doing their job, aren’t they, they’ve got to think about our safety and decide what they’re going to do. We’ve just got to carry on as best as we can.”
All evacuations were optional, police said.
The German Luftwaffe dropped around 25,000 tonnes of bombs on east London’s Royal Docks during the Blitz, according to the Royal Docks Management Authority.