Boom! Giant explosion of WW2 bomb that sparked chaos for thousands at London City Airport

Patrick Grafton-Green
Explosion: The WW2 bomb is detonated in the Thames estuary near Shoeburyness, Essex: PA

This is the dramatic moment a 500kg World War Two bomb discovered near London City Airport was detonated triggering a huge explosion from beneath water.

The 1.5-metre long ordnance was detonated by bomb disposal experts in the Thames estuary off Shoeburyness, Essex, on Wednesday afternoon.

An image showed a huge column of water shooting towards the sky.

Royal Navy divers used a flotation device to move the unexploded shell down the River on Monday night after it brought chaos to the East End when it was discovered earlier this week.

It was lodged in silt about 11 metres (36ft) underwater and removed by workers the centre of the King George V Dock at about 6pm on Monday night.

The device was being taken into the Thames estuary to be detonated at depth.

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts detonate an unexploded Second World War bomb in the Thames estuary off Shoeburyness, Essex (PA)

Officials had planned to detonate the bomb on Tuesday but it was called off because of bad weather.

The Port of London Authority escorted it, with boats at the front and back to ensure no danger to other river traffic. Road bridges were closed as the convoy passed by.

Royal Navy clearance divers prepare to detonate the bomb found near City airport (Royal Navy)

Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, the officer in charge of Southern Diving Unit 2, said: "Our priority is safety to life which is why the airport has been closed as a precautionary measure.

The bomb was later detonated in dramatic scenes sending a column of water shooting hundreds of feet into the sky (Royal Navy)

“We are taking the necessary steps to ensure the device is as safe as possible before we remove it from the sea bed and tow it away to a safe disposal site.

"We will then attach high-grade military explosives before carrying out a controlled explosion.

Members of the Royal Navy bomb disposal team prepare the detonator for the WWII bomb (Royal Navy)

“The aim is to cause as little disruption to the city of London as possible."

Flights resumed at the airport on Tuesday morning, with a British Airways flight from Rotterdam landing at 6.42am and a BA flight to Geneva departing at 6.56am.

There were slight delays as the airport’s schedule of up to 300 flights got back on track, with the airport busier than usual as a number of passengers unable to travel yesterday flew today.

Meanwhile residents were forced to spend more than 18 hours away from their homes after a 214-metre exclusion zone was established by police, covering seven streets, as a safety precaution.

Robert Sinclair, the CEO of London City Airport, said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the Royal Navy and in particular, the team of expert divers under the command of Lieutenant Commander Sean Heaton for their professionalism and tireless efforts over a prolonged period to bring this operation to a safe conclusion.

“Monday’s events caused a lot of disruption, not least for our local residents and passengers, but flights returned to normal on Tuesday.

"The collaboration between the Royal Navy, the Metropolitan Police, the Army and London Borough of Newham represented an excellent example of London emergency planning.”

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