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Second World War bomb that forced thousands to evacuate in Plymouth detonated at sea | UK News

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

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WW2 bomb found in Plymouth

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.

The bomb was discovered in a garden in Keyham, Plymouth by a man digging out foundations for an extension.
Image:
The bomb was discovered in a garden in Keyham

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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.”

Christian B: Madeleine McCann suspect beat rape victim and attacked woman while wearing ski mask, court hears | World News

The prime suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann raped a woman while wearing a ski mask and beat another rape victim with a whip, a court has heard.

Christian B – whose surname cannot be published due to the country’s privacy laws – faces three counts of rape and two of sexual abuse at his trial in the northern city of Braunschweig.

The 47-year-old German is alleged to have committed the offences in Portugal between 2000 and 2017. The allegations do not relate to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007.

Madeleine McCann. Pic: Handout/ PA
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The British youngster went missing in 2007. Pic: Handout/ PA

He is accused of raping and beating a 70 to 80-year-old woman, after entering her bedroom wearing a ski mask. He also allegedly held a cushion over the woman’s face before leaving.

Under another charge, it’s said Christian B allegedly woke up a 20-year-old from Ireland as she slept, before raping her at her flat in Portugal in June 2004. In the same alleged attack, he is accused of gagging the woman and beating her.

Other charges facing Christian B include:

  • Beating and sexually assaulting a girl aged at least 14 sometime between December 2000 and April 2006 at his house in Praia da Luz, Portugal
  • Exposing himself to a 10-year-old German girl at a beach in Salema in the district of Faro in Portugal on 7 April 2007
  • Exposing himself to an 11-year-old Portuguese girl at a playground in Bartolomeu de Messines in Portugal on 11 June 2017

During the hearing, Christian B’s lawyer said the defendant “is using his right to remain silent”.

His defence lawyer said he expects his client to be acquitted, dismissing the evidence as “abysmal”.

There are no formal pleas in the German legal system, and defendants are not obliged to respond to the charges.

Christian B is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old in Praia da Luz, the same town where Madeleine disappeared.

He has not been charged in the McCann case and denies involvement, but has been under investigation for the last few years.

Madeleine was three when she went missing on holiday in Portugal in May 2007.

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16 February: Christian B arrives in court

In May last year, German and Portuguese police searched a nearby reservoir that Christian B used to call his “paradise”.

His trial opened a week ago but was swiftly adjourned on its first day after Mr Fulscher filed a challenge against a lay judge on the panel hearing the case, who was alleged once to have spread a call to kill former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on social media.

Prosecutors supported the challenge.

The woman has been removed from the case and now faces an investigation herself on suspicion of making a public call to commit crimes.

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Friedrich Fuelscher expects his client to be acquitted. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Friedrich Fulscher expects his client to be acquitted. Pic: Reuters

The trial is expected to last four months.

UN agency chief ‘shocked’ as UK and others pause funding over claims staff involved in Hamas attack | World News

The head of the UN refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) has said the decision by nine countries to pause funding for the aid agency is “shocking”.

The suspension of funding by countries including the UK and US followed allegations UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel.

“These decisions threaten our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip,” commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini said.

Follow live: ‘Ironclad’ intel shows UN agency staff links to Hamas

“UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, with over two million people depending on it for their sheer survival,” Mr Lazzarini said.

“Some 3,000 core staff out of 13,000 in Gaza continue to report to work, giving their communities a lifeline which can collapse anytime now due to lack of funding,” he added.

He suggested UNRWA would be “forced to suspend its humanitarian response” if funding was not reinstated.

In the wake of the allegations, the Foreign Office said it was “temporarily pausing any future funding of UNRWA whilst we review these concerning allegations”.

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Israeli senior adviser says 12 UN members just the ‘tip of the iceberg’

It comes after a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was “documented, clear and ironclad” information showing 12 UNRWA staff members were part of the Hamas force that broke into Israel and killed 1,200 civilians.

Mark Regev said a lot of the information that led to the accusations was shared by Hamas on social media.

“Hamas went live on social media and boasted a lot of the material, so you actually see the faces and the people involved in a lot of the crimes,” he told Sky News.

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David Cameron warns of ‘danger and instability’ in the world as he defends UK strikes on Houthi targets | Politics News

Not taking military action against the Houthis would have led to “more attacks” in the Red Sea, according to Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron.

The British military took part in a joint operation in Yemen alongside the US this week in retaliation for the targeting of international trade in the key shipping lane – followed up by a fresh attack by the US on Friday night.

Lord Cameron said the action by the Houthis was “effectively terrorist attacks”, adding: “If you don’t act against the Houthis in the Red Sea, you are going to see more attacks.”

And he hinted the government would be willing to join in further military action, telling Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Philips the UK had “demonstrated that we are prepared to follow words and warning with action”.

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RAF Typhoons strike military targets in Yemen
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RAF Typhoons strike military targets in Yemen

Lord Cameron also warned: “It is hard to think of a time when there has been so much danger and insecurity and instability in the world.

“The lights are absolutely flashing red on the global dashboard and what we need at that time is strong leadership and a plan and that is what we have with the prime minister and the team in place.”

The foreign secretary further defended the initial response to the attacks on ships in the Red Sea, saying there had been 26 incidents since November – including an attack on HMS Diamond, that saw over 20 drones and missiles used by the Houthis.

Asked about concerns that the military operation could lead to an escalation in tensions in the Middle East, the foreign secretary said: “What are the consequences of not acting?

“We have endured almost two months of continual attacks and we gave warning after warning and frankly, ultimately that wasn’t working and the number of attacks was going up, the severity of those attacks was going up.

“So not acting is also a policy, and it was a policy that wasn’t working.”

A spokesman for the Yemeni armed forces in the Houthi-controlled north of the country said in a televised statement that the bombardment “will not go unanswered and unpunished” – saying it would not deter their support for Palestinians amid Israel’s war in Gaza.

Lord Cameron denied any link between the Red Sea attacks, saying the action was “completely separate”.

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Houthis vow ‘punishment’ for attacks

However, also speaking to Trevor Philips, the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, said the strikes had “inevitable” connections to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“If one’s being rational in analysis, I agree with David Cameron that freedom of navigation is a different issue from Gaza, but the Arab street doesn’t think that,” he said.

“Inevitably there’s a connection. They’re going to have an impact across the whole area.”

Cameron may need to keep unintended consequences in mind

Rob Powell Political reporter

Rob Powell

Political correspondent

@robpowellnews

If there’s a foreign policy mantra to be extracted from David Cameron’s time as prime minister, it is likely around the cost of doing nothing.

As he wrote in his memoir about the 2011 intervention in Libya to stop a massacre in Benghazi, “to do nothing in these circumstances was not a neutral act – it was to facilitate murder”.

Two years after the Libya strikes and Cameron made a similar argument to persuade MPs to back bombing in Syria. It didn’t work.

He was defeated in a Commons vote and ruled out any intervention.

The now Lord Cameron says he still believes that was a mistake, but denies he is “over-correcting” by taking a firm line against the Houthis.

It is worth looking at how events in Libya and Syria ultimately played out though.

After initial claims of a new era of freedom, Libya eventually descended into violence, with the UK intervention criticised as ill-informed and lacking in strategy.

In Syria, President Assad remains in power, while Russian involvement there has increased Moscow’s influence in the region.

Two countries. Two different approaches. One similarly undesirable outcome for the UK.

A related danger hangs over military involvement against the Houthis. Set against the wider turbulence in the Middle East, any direct Western involvement must present a risk of triggering uncontrolled escalation.

Far from the cost of doing nothing, it may be the rule of unintended consequences that the foreign secretary should keep in mind.

The government has got the support of Labour in the action, with shadow health secretary Wes Streeting telling Sky News it was an “open and shut case”.

He also said his party understood the need to act “swiftly and decisively” without recalling parliament to debate the issue.

“These strikes were targeted and focussed and absolutely necessary in Britain’s self-defence and national interest,” Mr Streeting told Trevor Philips.

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How UK jets struck the Houthis

But the Liberal Democrats have attacked the government for “bypassing” parliament, and called for a retrospective vote on the action in the Commons when the prime minister makes a statement on Monday.

The party’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Layla Moran, said: “We remain very concerned about the Houthi’s attacks.

“But that makes it all the more important to ensure that MPs are not silenced on the important issue of military action.”

Justin Trudeau petitioned to apologise for Canada’s past treatment of British child migrants | World News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being petitioned to apologise to British child migrants who suffered “shame and isolation”.  

It is the latest move by campaigners demanding an official apology for the treatment endured by youngsters shipped to Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The petition, initiated by the group Home Children Canada, states child migrants were subjected to abuse and stigmatisation, and that many died “ashamed of their history and deprived of their family”.

About 115,000 youngsters, so-called British Home Children, were shipped to Canada from the UK between 1869 and 1948.

Typically, they were used as cheap labour and put to work on farms or as domestic servants and many have told stories of overwork and mistreatment.

They were transferred from orphan homes in the UK but campaigners for the Home Children say that many were only temporary residents of the orphanages and had families who were unaware they made the trip to Canada.

Read more:
The forgotten legacy of British children sent to Canada

Now, those campaigners have submitted a petition calling on Justin Trudeau to follow the example of the UK and Australia in issuing a formal apology, something the Canadian government has resisted.

Presented to Canada’s House of Commons, the petition states: “Home children/child migrants were, as a result of the system, thrust into difficult and inappropriate personal living circumstances exacerbated by a belief that they were unwanted by parents and, as a result, denied access to siblings and/or other relatives.”

“We… call upon the prime minister to sincerely apologise to Home Children/child migrants who suffered in shame and isolation, to those who died while being ashamed of their history and deprived of their family, to elderly survivors burdened by their past, and to descendants grappling with the inter-generational impacts of a system that mistreated and separated their families.”

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Canada’s British ‘Home Children’

One of the last surviving British Home Children, George Beardshaw, supports the campaign for an apology.

In an interview with Sky News in September 2023, George, aged 100, said: “People thought that Britain was sending over some of the scum from off the streets of London, they all thought we were thieves.

“Some got pitchforks through them. Some slept in the barn with the cattle.”

The UK and Australian governments have issued official apologies for their parts in child migrant schemes.

In 2017, Canada’s House of Commons passed a motion of apology, but there has been none from the government itself.

In September 2023, Sky News asked Mr Trudeau if his government owed an apology to British Home Children. He didn’t address the question, saying only: “Good to see you.”

In response to the latest petition, the Canadian government told Sky News: “The government of Canada is committed to keeping the memory of the British Home Children alive so that we can all learn from past mistakes.

“As adopted by the House of Commons in February 2018, the government of Canada supports the designation of 28 September as British Home Child Day in order to raise awareness and ensure the recognition of the many contributions British Home Children have made to Canada.

“The government has supported a number of outreach, commemorative and educational initiatives to recognise the experience of the Home Children.

“These include the designation of the immigration experience of former Home Children as a national historic event; and the establishment of a commemorative plaque at the site of a former receiving home in Stratford, Ontario.”

Binyamin Needham: British teenager killed in Gaza while fighting for IDF | World News

Binyamin Needham, a 19-year-old British national, has been killed in Gaza while fighting for the IDF.

Mr Needham, who had dual nationality, moved to Israel with his family 10 years ago, and is understood to be the second British national after Nathanel Young to have been killed whilst serving in the IDF since the 7 October attacks.

The soldier was born in England and was the youngest of five children, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said.

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Explosions rock Gaza

Mr Needham, who was from Zichron Yaakov, fought with the 601st Battalion of the Combat Engineering Corps, the Times of Israel said.

Israeli officials said he had only been in the Gaza Strip for two days when he was killed in action and celebrated his birthday two weeks ago, according to The Mirror.

Follow live: IDF operations in northern Gaza ‘nearly complete’

His sister, Orli Ferris, told the paper he was “a wonderful, wonderful brother”.

“We loved him with all our hearts and we always will. He will be missed by all of us and so many others, but we will always make sure we remember him in our hearts,” she said.

“Nothing will be the same now, but we are all very proud of what he did and he was also proud of what he was doing.

“He had just finished his apprenticeship and was doing his professional training.

“We don’t know the exact details of what happened but he was only in Gaza for two days. He went in on Friday and died Sunday.”

A woman mourning in Gaza. Pic provided by Stuart Ramsay.
Image:
A woman mourning in Gaza. Pic provided by Stuart Ramsay.

The teenager was one of three soldiers who died in combat operations in Gaza on Sunday, the IDF said on Monday.

The other two soldiers were named as Neriya Shaer and Ben Zussman.

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More than 15,500 Palestinians and more than 1,200 Israelis have been reported killed in the fighting since 7 October, according to the UN.

The IDF has said 401 Israeli soldiers have been killed, 75 of those during the ground offensive inside Gaza.

Britain’s musicians facing existential career crisis | World News

Musicians have told Sky News they are facing an existential career crisis due to low mental wellbeing caused by economic uncertainties within the industry.  

It comes as a new study of 6,000 musicians across the UK found that a third of them are experiencing low mental wellbeing, with one in four saying it is contributing to them being likely to leave the industry within five years.

The Help Musicians and Music Minds Matter survey showed that 43% of professional musicians earn less than £14,000 a year and suggested that low income is one of the causes of poor mental health among musicians.

Amid the report’s findings, the industry’s trade union is calling for the government to invest more in initiatives which boost grassroots music and help musicians break into international markets.

‘We need a root and branch look’

Chris Walters, national organiser at the Musicians’ Union, said: “We would ask the government to reflect on the immense value of the music industry to the UK, and then consider the lives of the musicians.

“How is it that musicians can keep producing this fantastic music? The UK is well-known for such low levels of pay and such precarious lifestyles. So we need a root and branch look.”

Rebecca Toal, a freelance trumpet player who also teaches, said she finds it difficult to find enough paid opportunities in the industry to earn a sustainable living. The economic uncertainty is having a knock-on effect on her mental health.

‘Performing is sometimes impossible’

She told Sky News: “It’s pretty up and down. It’s very difficult to get opportunities, get paid work, if it’s paid work maybe it’s not enough.

“The anxiety also means that performing is sometimes impossible. Either you get shaky or your breathing – which is very important for the trumpet – just goes out of the window. Or you’re kind of disassociated from things.

“It’s really important when you’re performing to be in a good mind-head space. And if you’ve got problems with your mental health that’s going affect it.”

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A UK government spokesperson said: “We are committed to maximising the potential of our world-class music industry so it can continue to grow and support jobs, and we are investing millions of pounds in initiatives to boost the grassroots music sector and help musicians break into international markets.

“We are also considering the findings of the Good Work Review, which sets out recommendations to support the creative industries’ workforce, including freelancers, and will respond in due course.”

Spain ‘very close’ to post-Brexit Gibraltar deal after Cameron meeting | World News

Spain says it’s “very close” to agreeing a deal on the post-Brexit status of Gibraltar.

The country’s foreign minister made the statement after meeting Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron in Brussels at a NATO meeting.

“Today we have made progress, because David Cameron has shown a willingness to reach an agreement,” Jose Manuel Albares told reporters.

“We are very, very close,” he added, in comments broadcast by Spain’s TVE.

Mr Albares said the pair were discussing details such as how both sides would use the island’s airport.

In a call with Mr Albares on Monday, Lord Cameron reiterated Britain’s commitment to conclude a deal on Gibraltar “as soon as possible”, said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

The question of how to police Gibraltar’s border with Spain long term has been undecided since Brexit.

A last-minute deal on 31 December 2020 meant Gibraltar stayed part of EU agreements, such as the Schengen Area, and left Spain to police the port and airport until another solution could be worked out.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrives for a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 28, 2023.
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Lord Cameron met his counterpart at a Brussels meeting of NATO foreign ministers

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Spain’s foreign minister said he hoped an agreement could be signed as early as Wednesday after his country recently tabled “a balanced and generous agreement”.

In late 2022, the European Commission and Spain proposed keeping Gibraltar’s land border to Spain open and ensuring the free flow of people.

The narrow peninsula – known colloquially as ‘The Rock’ – has been a British territory since 1713, but Spain has long called for it to be handed back.

Two migrants found dead in Channel after trying to reach UK in small boat | World News

Two migrants have died in the English Channel after trying to reach the UK from France.

A man and a woman, both believed to be in their 30s, were found lifeless at around 1.30pm on Wednesday near Boulogne-Sur-Mer, the local prosecutor told Le Monde.

They were among 60 people found on board a dinghy that had got into distress.

Several of the group had fallen into the sea and were suffering from hypothermia when they were brought to shore for treatment.

But medics were unable to save the two people found unresponsive.

They are the seventh and eighth migrants to die at sea off the French coast so far this year.

The six others – all from Afghanistan and aged between 21 and 34 – lost their lives on 12 August.

Reports of the newest deaths come ahead of the two-year anniversary of the single greatest loss of life in the Channel in recent history when 27 migrants drowned on 24 November 2021.

At least 27,708 people have crossed to the UK aboard small boats so far this year, according to government data compiled and analysed by Sky News.

This is 34% lower than at the same time in 2022, when 42,206 people had succeeded in making the dangerous journey.

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Despite the overall number of people making the life-threatening trip in 2023 being lower than last year, the number of people being packed aboard each boat has increased – a sign that smugglers are seeking to make more profit, at the expense of safety.

An average of almost 49 people have been found on board each boat that made it to the UK so far this year. It was 41 per boat last year and just 13 in 2020.

On Thursday, revised official figures showed that net migration to the UK in 2022 was at a record high of 745,000.

Tears as Liverpool star Luis Diaz reunited with father after kidnap ordeal | World News

Liverpool star Luis Diaz has been reunited with his father who was kidnapped and held hostage by a guerilla group in Colombia.

The pair were visibly emotional – with Diaz’s father in tears – as they embraced in Barranquilla for the first time since the ordeal.

The Colombian football federation announced Luis Manuel Diaz Jimenez’s arrival in the city, with the message “welcome home Luchooo”.

The Colombian national team are due to play Brazil there on Thursday in a South American qualifying round for the 2026 World Cup.

The pair looked visibly emotional as they reunited. Pic: Colombia Football Federation/Reuters
Image:
The pair looked visibly emotional as they reunited. Pic: Colombia Football Federation/Reuters

Mr Diaz Jimenez had been held hostage for 12 days in a mountainous area of Colombia by members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN.

He was taken along with Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, on 28 October by armed men on motorbikes at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, near Colombia’s border with Venezuela.

Ms Marulanda was rescued within hours by police.

After Mr Diaz Jimenez was kidnapped, special forces searched for him in a mountain range that spans the two countries.

And a $48,000 (£38,000) reward was offered by police for information leading to his rescue.

Diaz had pleaded with his father’s kidnappers to release him and said he and his brothers were “desperate” to see him returned.

The group later admitted the kidnapping was a mistake and its top leadership ordered Mr Diaz Jimenez’s release.

He was eventually freed last Thursday in the vicinity of the Serrania del Perija, a mountainous area of difficult access on the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

Four suspects were arrested at the weekend in connection with the kidnapping.

Read more:
Luis Diaz’s father reveals details of kidnapping

The abduction happened during peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the ELN, and left the talks in a critical state.

The government wants the group to promise to end its kidnappings and free remaining captives – a key issue in the next round of discussions.

The ELN has defended the kidnappings as a way of financing itself, and claimed it “is poor like the majority of Colombians”.

Armed groups in Colombia carried out 160 kidnappings and 121 releases between January 2022 and September 2023, according to the country’s ombudsman’s office.