A World War Two bomb discovered in Exeter will be detonated in a controlled explosion tonight while thousands of residents are still unable to return to their homes within the 400-yard cordon.
Devon and Cornwall Police said homes were evacuated for the examination of the device, which was located at a site on Glenthorne Road on Friday morning.
Around 2,600 properties in the vicinity of the street, including 1,400 university students, were evacuated on Friday and Saturday.
The device, described as around eight feet long and 27 inches across, was found on a building site on private land to the west of the University of Exeter campus.
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.
Students and residents who live within a 400-yard cordon have been evacuated by the local emergency services after the discovery of an unexploded World War Two bomb
Properties were evacuated for the examination of the device (pictured above), which was located at a site on Glenthorne Road near Exeter University on Friday morning
The force said a controlled detonation was expected to take place by this 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.’
A Royal Navy spokesperson said that, as of 1.30pm, 300 tonnes of sand had been delivered to the site of the bomb to assist with the safe detonation of the bomb.
It is understood that the huge amount of sand was being used to build a bunker around the device to protect it.
No specific time has been scheduled yet for the controlled detonation, but it is due to happen tonight.
The Royal Navy spokesperson added: ‘We don’t have any timings, but overnight they built a sort of sand bag bank around it.
‘They would detonate the bomb this afternoon, the decision is up to the people on the scene.
Hundreds of people have been taken to Exeter’s historic quayside to enjoy the sun while they are evacuated from their halls due to the unexploded World War Two bomb
Locals pictured being evacuated. A police spokesman said examination of the device is set to commence at 10am and ‘could take several hours’
Hundreds of people pictured at Exeter’s quayside. No specific time has been scheduled yet for the controlled detonation, but it is due to happen tonight
‘It’s now a joint operation between the navy and army, with the army taking control because they have the machinery to move the large amount of sand.
‘They’ve put the bank around it, meaning if it goes of it’ll shield a lot of the explosion.’
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.
An initial 100-yard cordon was put in place, with evacuations taking place on Friday evening and Saturday morning.
A handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence on Saturday of the unexploded bomb which was found near university halls in Exeter
Police, fire services, coastguards and 4X4 response teams, along with the local council, have been knocking on doors and halls of residence around the city centre
The evacuations were at the request of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team, who worked through the night to establish a walled mitigation structure
The evacuations were at the request of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team, who worked through the night to establish a walled mitigation structure.
Around 200 students were vacated by emergency services from one of the university halls, alongside a nearby care home and residents.
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 police spokesman earlier said: ‘The examination and detonation of the device has been passed to the Army. Examination of the device is due to commence at 10am and could take several hours.’
Local emergency services pictured today. Road closures have been put in place between Cowley Bridge and Exe Bridges, with motorists advised to avoid the area
The mass evacuation underway this morning, with mountain rescue vehicles and a road closure sign in place. Diversions are also in place
A police van seen near Exeter University yesterday morning, when the unexploded device was discovered on private land to the west of the campus
Police Inspector Sean Roper previously said the situation would take some time to resolve because of the size of the bomb, which could not be disposed of like smaller devices.
Road closures have been put in place between Cowley Bridge and Exe Bridges, with diversions in place and motorists advised to avoid the area.
The force spokesman added: ‘Residents should be reassured that military, police and partners are working to maintain public safety.
‘Exemptions in Covid-19 social distancing rules exist for matters of public safety such as this.’
In a statement posted to social media this morning, the force declared a major incident.
It said: ‘More than 2,000 homes are being evacuated this morning in preparation for the detonation of a suspected WW2 bomb by the Army, discovered at a building site on Glenthorne Road yesterday.’