Suspected Second World War bomb found in Exeter to be detonated

Claire Hayhurst, PA

A suspected Second World War bomb discovered in Exeter is to be detonated, police have confirmed.

Devon and Cornwall Police were alerted after the device was found on a building site on private land to the west of the University of Exeter campus at about 9.20am on Friday.

Initially, a 100-metre cordon was erected but this was extended to 400 metres on Saturday at the request of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team.

Around 2,600 properties in the vicinity of Glenthorne Road, including 1,400 university students, were evacuated on Friday and Saturday.

Exeter unexploded Second World War bomb
The site of an unexploded Second World War bomb, which was found in Exeter (MoD/PA)

The Royal Navy bomb disposal team worked through the night to establish a walled mitigation structure before the examination and detonation of the device was passed to experts at the Army’s Royal Logistics Corps.

Devon and Cornwall Police said a controlled detonation was expected to take place by Saturday evening.

A force spokesman said: “The time of the explosion is yet to be confirmed.

“After the detonation, assessments will be conducted by the various utility companies prior to residents returning, but it is anticipated that the majority of residents will be able to return home this evening.”

Devon County Council and Exeter City Council have been working to help people in private residences find alternative accommodation.

The majority of residents who have been evacuated are staying with family and friends, police said.

Students have been moved to hotels and vacant university residences.

They will return home when the university has carried out safety checks following the conclusion of the incident.

Road closures have been put in place between Cowley Bridge and Exe Bridges, with diversions in place and motorists asked to avoid the area.

Superintendent Antony Hart, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “This multi-agency operation is progressing well.

“We would like to thank all members of the public who have been affected by this incident, particularly residents who have been compliant in evacuating.

“We understand the disruption caused and appreciate everyone’s patience.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said people required to leave their homes had been encouraged to visit family or friends, unless they are Covid-positive or self-isolating.

Those who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable have been offered additional support and advice.

“Visiting friends and family is allowed in these circumstances for matters of public safety, despite current Covid-19 restrictions,” the council spokesman said.

“All households have been advised to follow Government guidelines of hands, space, face when leaving their property.”