Bath residents flee after second world war bomb found in playground

Hundreds evacuated from homes after being woken in the night upon discovery of unexploded 500lb bomb at former school

Contractors unearthed the shell from beneath the surface of the private school’s playground, which had been in use until a few years ago. Photograph: Avon & Somerset police

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from their homes in Bath after an unexploded 500lb second world war bomb was found in a playground.

A 300-metre exclusion zone was set up following the discovery at the former school in Lansdown Road, and residents were woken up in the night and told to leave.

About 1,100 homes were in the evacuation zone, but police did not know how many people had decided to leave. Some residents were put up in a marquee on the nearby racecourse. Others were spending the day in a pavilion at the Recreation Ground close to the city centre and were told they may not be able to return for 48 hours. Schools were shut and road diversions put in place.

Contractors unearthed the shell from beneath the surface of the private school’s playground, which had been in use until a few years ago, and an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team was called. The bomb is 1.42m long and 0.4m wide.

Ch Insp Kevin Thatcher, of Avon and Somerset police, said: “We recognise the disruption this incident has already caused to residents inside the exclusion zone and we’d like to thank them for their patience. Decisions to evacuate houses are never taken lightly but during these incidents public safety will always be our primary concern.

“We also appreciate the anxiety many in the local community may feel following the discovery of the device and the time required to remove it but we would urge people not to be alarmed. The EOD are working as quickly as they can to remove the device and we will provide regular updates on their progress.”

Building a big sand castle around a WW2 bomb

The EOD team was building a barrier around the device using 250 tonnes of sand. Once this was in place, they planned to remove the bomb and, with a police escort, take it to a safe location and carry out a controlled explosion.

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