Homes left with blown-out windows after 1,000kg WWII bomb detonated in Exeter

HOMES located in the shadow of a World War II bomb detonated by military experts have been left with blown out windows and shocking structural damage.

Huge shards of metal from the explosion landed on neighbouring properties and a specialist crane is now heading to Exeter city centre to clear the debris.

The deadly device – believed to be a 1,000kg 'Hermann' bomb used by the Nazis – was discovered on a building site to the west of the University of Exeter on Friday morning.

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

Residents living in around 2,600 properties in the vicinity of Glenthorne Road, including 1,400 students, were evacuated on Friday and Saturday morning.

The controlled detonation then took place at 6.10pm last night – with the huge blast heard by those living up to five miles away.

To combat the impact of the explosion, around 400 tonnes of sand was transported to the site and walls were erected by the Royal Navy bomb disposal experts and Army personnel from the Royal Logistics Corps.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "However, unfortunately structural damage has been caused to some buildings, primarily within the 100-metre cordon, including blown-out windows and cracks in brickwork.

"Every effort is being made this morning to ensure structural assessments are conducted as soon as possible so that residents can return home later today."

However, the force spokesman added that residents should not return until given the green light by the authorities.

On Saturday, police said the impact of the blast had been "significant", with debris thrown at least 250 metres away.

The massive explosion also left a crater around the size of a double decker bus.

There are no concerns regarding the impact of the explosion, which caused a large plume of sand, on public health grounds, the force confirmed.

It had previously been expected that residents, the majority of whom are staying with friends and family, would be able to return home on Saturday.

Devon County Council confirmed that visiting friends and family was allowed in such circumstances, despite Covid-19 restrictions.

Exeter University asked students not to return to their residences on Saturday to allow safety assessments to be conducted.

Devon & Cornwall Police last night posted a dramatic video of the controlled explosion thanking those who "worked so hard to ensure the safety of all."

On the clip, smoke is seen billowing above homes just milli-seconds after the massive blast is heard.

Local Cliff Smith tweeted: "I heard the thud of the explosion, felt the shockwave and things on my desk rattled.

"I looked out of the window and saw the smoke plume. I trust that everyone nearby was safe. I'm in Saint Thomas, about 1.5 miles from the blast."

Rita Tincombe, who lives on the outskirts of Exeter, said: "It made my windows shake."

Sandra Walker said: "It frightened the wotsit out of me when it was detonated."

A council hotline for evacuated residents who need help and support will be available between 9am and 5pm on Sunday on 0345 155 1015.

However, locals will not be able to receive information about damage to specific properties through that number, police added.

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