Felixstowe shakes as bomb is detonated

VIDEO Royal Navy officials have detonated the Second World War bomb which was discovered – before being temporarily lost - at Felixstowe.The 500kg German weapon washed up on the beach at Felixstowe - but was lost when it was towed out to sea.

THE saga of a war-time bomb washed up on the Suffolk coast reached an explosive end tonight.

Hundreds of people braved strong winds and heavy rain to watch Royal Navy bomb disposal experts finally detonate the 1,000lb German bomb off the Felixstowe coast.

The Second World War shell, which was lost during strong currents a week ago, was rediscovered by a computer-operated submarine this morning.

Harwich Harbour Authority and the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal team imposed a one-mile exclusion zone a mile off the shore to allow the Royal Navy to detonate the bomb at 7.15pm.

Two boats carrying an eight-strong team battled choppy seas as they attempted to light the fuse from a safe distance.

The first attempt misfired but at 7.40pm the crowds finally got what they had been waiting for.

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A huge, 150ft plume of water rose into the air as the explosion sounded, while the ground shook from the vibrations.

The waiting crowd, many of whom had visited the seafront on a daily basis in the hope of witnessing the detonation, cheered and clapped as the bomb finally exploded.

The force of the explosion was so powerful that many residents inland also heard the bang.

Lt Cdr Chris Baldwin, from the Royal Navy's Southern Diving Unit, said: “The job is now hopefully completed. We worked very well with all the agencies around here and have improved our operational capabilities.

“We will assess the area to make sure there's no environmental damage and then recover all the equipment.”

The quest to relocate the shell resumed yesterday morning using a high-tech device called Remus.

The 5ft 8in torpedo-shaped vehicle continued scanning the seabed and pinpointed the bomb yesterday morning.

Hundreds of pensioners, families and couples descended on Undercliff Road East last night for the best view of the explosion.

When news emerged that the first attempt had misfired, one amused onlooker called out: “Everybody to the Fludyer Arms” - the nearest seafront pub.

But the spectators only had to wait 25 minutes this time, albeit in the pouring rain, before the main event.

Dennis Bryan, 79, who lives in Felixstowe, was one of the first residents to arrive after news broke the Royal Navy were planning to detonate.

The pensioner said: “I've been down here everyday. It's been quite interesting, something different.

“A lot of people have found it amusing but they do a very dangerous job and do the best they can. We can't ask any more. I wouldn't want to do the job.

“I saw the bomb disposal guys this afternoon when they were preparing the explosives. I was definitely going to make sure I was here tonight. Better late than never!”

Juliet and Ian Grimshaw, from Walton, brought their two children, Molly, 10, and Jack, 14, down to the seafront to watch the spectacle.

“It was the talk of the town but the novelty wore off after a couple of days,” said Mrs Grimshaw.

“I literally finished work tonight and came down here to have a look. It's not the sort of thing that happens every day.”

The German SC type shell from 1942 washed up on Felixstowe beach early last Monday morning, causing more than 1,000 residents to be temporarily evacuated from their seaside homes.

Experts from the Royal Navy's Bomb Disposal Unit said the bomb - thought to be one of the largest ever to be washed up on Britain's coastline - had the potential to “flatten” a huge area of Felixstowe's seafront if it exploded on the beach - and cause collateral damage up to half a mile inland.

They towed it out to sea on Tuesday and had hoped to detonate it but then it became apparent that strong currents had moved its position and testing conditions have since hampered efforts to relocate it.

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