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Streets of Plymouth are empty, but the pubs are packed! Locals evacuated from exclusion zone raise their pints to Army squad moving unexploded WW2 bomb


Locals in Plymouth have packed pubs after an emergency alert warned people to evacuate as a suspected Second World War explosive device is moved to be disposed of at sea.

Devon and Cornwall Police were called on Tuesday morning to St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area after the object was discovered in a garden.

Since then, a 300-metre cordon has been put in place around the site – affecting 1,219 properties and an estimated 3,250 people – but many have used it as an excuse to go for a pint. 

Just half a mile away from the exclusion zone, locals gathered in a pub to enjoy an afternoon pint – while one man even moved nearer the area to enjoy a cider ‘in solidarity’. 

People joked the mass evacuation was the perfect excuse to ‘go to the pub’ and described the experience as ‘very surreal’. 

The Ministry of Defence said the evacuation in Plymouth due to the unexploded bomb is one of the largest since the Second World War.

People in Plymouth are packing pubs after being told to evacuate from an exclusion zone

People in Plymouth are packing pubs after being told to evacuate from an exclusion zone

One local in a Plymouth pub as an emergency alert warned people to evacuate

One local in a Plymouth pub as an emergency alert warned people to evacuate 

The world is watching as army experts begin the nerve-jangling process of carrying a live Nazi bomb through the streets of Plymouth after one of the largest ever UK peacetime evacuations - while locals used the incident as an excuse for a pint

The world is watching as army experts begin the nerve-jangling process of carrying a live Nazi bomb through the streets of Plymouth after one of the largest ever UK peacetime evacuations – while locals used the incident as an excuse for a pint

Packed pubs in Plymouth

Packed pubs in Plymouth

Just half a mile away from the exclusion zone, locals gathered in a pub to enjoy an afternoon pint 

Local man Paul Blair said he had grabbed a pint near the exclusion zone 'in solidarity'

Local man Paul Blair said he had grabbed a pint near the exclusion zone ‘in solidarity’ 

In a statement on X, the MoD said: ‘One of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations since WW2 is underway in Plymouth, where @BritishArmy and @RoyalNavy have been working round the clock to make safe a 500kg unexploded bomb.

‘Personnel are working with @plymouthcc & emergency services to evacuate residents.’

On Friday, Plymouth City Council announced that the bomb would be taken by military convoy to the Torpoint Ferry slipway to be disposed of at sea.

People living within 300 metres of the route the bomb will travel were told they must leave their homes by 2pm on Friday for their own city.

An alert was sent to mobile devices in the area shortly after 12pm on Friday, stating: ‘Severe Alert. Issued by Plymouth City Council.

‘The WWII bomb found in Keyham will be transported today 23 February 2024 at 2pm to Torpoint Ferry slipway via Saltash Road.

‘A time limited cordon will be in place along this route between 2pm until an estimated 5pm. You are asked to leave and stay away from the cordoned area for this time period.

‘For more information about the route, cordon and support – go to the Plymouth City Council website. Visit gov.uk/alerts for more information.’

Plymouth City Council said the decision to remove the device and take it to the slipway was considered the ‘safest and least impactful option’.

Highly trained bomb disposal experts will carefully remove the bomb from the garden before it is transported by road in a military convoy.

An assessment found that if the bomb was detonated where it was found, there would be too high a risk of significant damage – including the destruction of a number of houses, the council said.

The WW2 bomb will be transported by military convoy to the sea where it will be disposed of by experts

The WW2 bomb will be transported by military convoy to the sea where it will be disposed of by experts

Navy personnel visit homes in Plymouth this afternoon during the evacuation operation

Navy personnel visit homes in Plymouth this afternoon during the evacuation operation 

Residents have been issued with a 'severe alert' which urges residents to 'stay away' during the Army operation

Residents have been issued with a ‘severe alert’ which urges residents to ‘stay away’ during the Army operation 

Defence bosses have opted to move the bomb intact by military convoy from its location in St Michael’s Avenue (top right) travelling to the Torpoint ferry landing (bottom left). A 300-metre cordon (in orange) around 1,200 properties along the route has been issued from 2pm to 5pm.

An aerial view showing the house where the bomb was discovered on Tuesday

An aerial view showing the house where the bomb was discovered on Tuesday 

Those affected by the cordon should be able to return home by 5pm on Friday, with the military advice clear that they must leave for their own safety.

Superintendent Phil Williams, of Devon and Cornwall Police, was speaking at a press conference at the cordon in Plymouth when the emergency alert rang out on mobile devices.

‘As has been the way throughout this, we’ve not forced anyone to leave their home. All we can do is urge them to and offer them the best possible advice that we can,’ he said.

Mr Williams said the military convoy was expected to take 20 minutes as it moved the bomb from the garden to the sea.

The main trainline will be closed as it travels through the cordon, while ferries will be suspended and buses will be diverted.

Schools and nurseries are to close to allow the operation to take place, while all businesses within the cordon have been told to evacuate.

Giles Perritt, assistant chief executive Plymouth City Council, said more than 1,000 staff and officers were involved in the operation to safely remove the bomb.

Police and bomb disposals experts stand near a cordon during today's massive operation in Plymouth

Police and bomb disposals experts stand near a cordon during today’s massive operation in Plymouth 

He said: ‘Today is the result of an enormous amount of planning.

‘You won’t be surprised to hear that officers and partners have been working around the clock since this incident started to come up with the best and safest solution to deal with this device.

‘We’re all both excited and still planning for carrying out a successful operation today.’

‘I believe that after an enormous amount of work, we’ve taken an approach which reduces the risk to human life and also reduces what might have been a devastating impact on properties around where the device is situated at the moment.

‘I think we’ve come up with a solution that lowers the risk to the least amount. There are still risks that we face but we think we’ve managed them the best.

‘I’d just at this time like to say that the colleagues from the military who will be at the wheel of that vehicle are taking risks that I think any of us would struggle to contemplate on a daily basis and my hat is absolutely off to them.’



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