1000kg WWII bomb detonates in Exeter


A one tonne WWII bomb detonated on Saturday 27th February 2020, causing structural damage to surrounding buildings.

1,000kg WWII bomb detonated on Saturday 27th February 2020, causing structural damage to surrounding buildings. 

The device was found during clearance on a construction site for the Exeter Student Housing scheme, which will add 270 additional student rooms. 

The detonated occured in the St James area of the city. The device was identified to be 1,000kg 'Hermann' bomb. The Ministry of Defence and the Navy worked together to cordon off the area and mitigate the threat of the bomb.  Initially, a 100-metre cordon was used, but the Royal Navy bomb disposal team requested the cordon zone be quadruapled to 400-metres.  

Community evacuations as a result of the unexploded bomb affect thousands 

2,600 households and 12 university halls residences (approximately 1,400 students) were evacuated before the device could be destroyed, a measure that to ensure community safety.  In addition to the mass evacuation, roads were closed to ensure the safety of the community. 

Devon County Council has set up a helpline for evacuated residents who are in need of support.  Luckily, the majority of evacuated residents were able to stay with friends and family.  Although this may not be ideal given the global panedmic, a 1,000kg bomb is an acceptable reason to enter someone else's household!  Hotel accomdation was also provided for those who needed it.   

The impact of the bomb blast

In order to mitigate the impact of the explosion, 400 tonnes of sand were transported to the site, walls were errected, and trenches were dug to prevent ground shock.  Due to the sheer size of the device and the complexitiy of the mitigation, army personnel from the Royal Logistics Corps were dispatched to provide support, guidance, and further strategic imput.

However, even with this measures in place, the team of experts were dealing with a 1,000kg device containing high explosives...

The blast resulted in significant debris, windows shattering, and structural damage to near by buildings.  In its wake the bomb left a crater the size of a double decker bus.  The debris - which included large, metal objects - scattered at least 250m away, showing it was the right call to expand the cordon zone.  

It has been reported that the detonated was heard up to 5 miles away from the site. 

Inspite of damage, commuity safety was ensured 

In spite of the damage caused to buildings and the inconvience caused to the evacuees, the teams involved did an excellent job in insuring the safety of all people.  An event like this with ordnance of this size could have seen horrific, deadly consequences.  SafeLane Global are pleased to see that no public health concerns resulted due to the impact. 

The council and all involved agencies are working hard to clear debris and assess structural damage, to enable residents to return to their homes as quickly as possible. 

Students were able to return to their accomdation on Sunday but were told to ensure they had their alternative accomdation on stand by.

Understand the history, mitigate the UXO risk  

In WWII the city was heavily attacked by German bombers.  In the UK, explosive remnants of war continue to impact future developments.  Mitigating the risk of unexploded ordnance (UXO) from sites ensures safety, adherenece to timelines, and mitigates the risk of additional unforseen expenditure. 

SafeLane is proud to have a dedicated, in-house research team.  The team can conduct detailed threat assessments to ensure you understand the liklihood you may encounter ordnance on your site.  This is the first stage of the threat mitigation process, ensuring you are equipped to make informed decisions about your explosive ordnance mitigation needs. 

Contact SafeLane today to ensure your site is safe from UXO.

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