An unexploded bomb from the Second World War which forced thousands to evacuate their homes in Plymouth has been detonated at sea.
Around 30 of the Armed Forces’ most experienced bomb disposal experts led the “highly complex disposal operation” on Friday after the 500kg bomb was discovered on Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
Police had been called to a property in St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area of Plymouth after the device was unearthed by a man digging out foundations for an extension to his property.
A 300-metre cordon was then put in place around the site, affecting 1,219 properties and an estimated 3,250 people – making it one of the largest evacuation operations since the end of the Second World War.
Read all of our coverage on the Second World War bomb here
The device was detonated just before 10pm, the MoD said.
The explosive was discovered in a back garden on, which prompted “one of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations” according to the MoD.
On Friday, a military convoy towed the unexploded bomb from the home where it was found and through the densely populated residential area to Torpoint Ferry slipway, where it was later detonated.
More than 100 personnel from the British Army and Royal Navy were involved in the operation along with Plymouth City Council officials, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, and Devon and Cornwall Police.
Lt Colonel Rob Swan, who was at the scene, explained before the detonation that the bomb would be taken to a depth of at least 14 metres before a diver would place a donor charge on the bomb to ignite the explosive.
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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps praised the “bravery and fortitude” of personnel involved in the “highly complex operation” and the “patience and cooperation” of members of the public.
He said: “I would like to express my thanks to all our personnel involved in this highly complex operation, who worked both night and day this week to keep the public safe and minimise the risk of damage, as well as the public for their patience and cooperation.
“The success of this operation is testament to the level of skill and expertise across our Armed Forces, as well as the bravery and fortitude of our personnel when faced with high-risk situations and working under extreme pressure.”
Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans said: “I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth.”