Students at the University of Exeter and many residents in the U.K. city of Exeter were evacuated due to the discovery of an old World War II bomb. The bomb was found by builders on private land in Exeter, next to the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus.
Residents within a 330-foot exclusion zone were evacuated. More than 2,600 households were cleared before the bomb was detonated, and about 1,400 students were evacuated as well.
According to the BBC, the bomb was around eight feet by 27 inches, and it weighed around 2,200 pounds.
The bomb was found on the morning of Friday, Feb. 26 by builders who were working on land next to the University of Exeter. Work to detonate the bomb took the whole weekend, with bomb technicians finally detonating the bomb on Saturday, Feb. 27. Residents were advised not to return to their homes until the bomb was cleared by bomb specialists. The University of Exeter—located close to the site of the bomb—evacuated 12 residences as a precaution. Students were not allowed to return back during the weekend, and they were moved to private accommodations.
After the bomb was detonated, police said that the blast left a crater “as big as a double-decker bus.” There were also reports from police that metal debris hit buildings, and some of the buildings within the exclusion zone sustained structural damage, while others only received minimal damage.
Debris was thrown at least 820 feet after the bomb was detonated, and residents who were located just outside of the main exclusion zone stated that there was a film of sand over cars. One resident just outside the main exclusion zone said hot metal landed at the edge of the exclusion zone.
The bomb was from a WWII German device called a “Hermann bomb.” A Hermann bomb, or an SC1000, is an old German WWII bomb that was used in air raids from Germany during the war. Many bombs are still being found decades after the war, unexploded, which can cause a lot of harm to nearby communities.
Bomb technicians were able to destroy the bomb in a 400-tonne “box” of sand, according to the BBC. The sound of the explosion was heard five miles away, according to the BBC.
Police and bomb technicians worked all through the weekend after destroying the bomb in order to get residents back into their homes. As of Monday, March 1, some Exeter residents were still not back in their homes due to police still needing to assess damage to buildings.
According to the BBC, the city of Exeter was heavily attacked by German bombers in 19 raids during WW2. Over 7,000 bombs were dropped in total, with many being dropped during the Baedecker Raids in 1942.
Other unexploded bombs that have been found include a bomb in London in June of 2008, where the bomb was diffused and only had a small detonation after five days by Royal Engineers; in Szczecin, Poland in 2013, where the bomb was lifted out of the location and taken to an Army training base to be destroyed in a controlled explosion; and Belgrade, Serbia in 2013, where the bomb was lifted and destroyed in a controlled explosion.
Students at the University of Exeter who were evacuated were put into private accommodations and were not allowed back into their dorms throughout the weekend of Feb. 27. Academic buildings, on the other hand, opened back up as scheduled, and anyone scheduled to be on campus was allowed back on.