New footage shows Royal Navy bomb disposal experts working to clear unexploded WW2 bomb in River Thames

Ross Lydall, Daniel O'Mahony, Ella Wills

New footage shows Royal Navy divers working to clear an unexploded World War Two bomb that sparked chaos at London City Airport.

Bomb disposal experts worked through the night to move the 500kg shell into the Thames estuary ahead of a controlled detonation on Tuesday morning.

A video released by the Ministry of Defence showed divers from Portsmouth's Southern Diving Unit 2 undertaking the first stage of the removal operation - lifting the bomb from the sea bed.

The device was lying in a bed of dense silt, and the team worked to free the shell so it could be floated for removal.

It was then towed out of the King George V Dock into the Thames, before being towed out to sea for explosion.

The bomb was moved into the Thames estuary ahead of a controlled explosion on Tuesday morning (PA)

The discovery of the bomb on Sunday led to the closure of the nearby airport for the entire day on Monday.

A 214-metre exclusion zone was put in place in Newham, meaning residents were evaucated from their homes and the airport was forced to ground all flights.

Royal Navy bomb disposal divers in King V George Dock close to London City Airport (PA)

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

The bomb, which was lodged in silt about 11 metres underwater, was removed to the centre of the dock at about 6pm last night.

It then continued its journey away from the airport before midnight as tides rose.

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

A 214-metre exclusion zone was in place on Monday meaning residents had to evacuate their homes (PA)

Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, the officer in charge of the Navy’s Southern Diving Unit 2, said high-grade military explosives would be attached to the device for a controlled explosion.

Residents told how they were forced to spend more than 18 hours away from their homes after police established a 214m (700ft) exclusion zone, covering seven streets, as a safety precaution. Others refused to leave.

Transport for London worker Ashiqul Islam, 23, helped to evacuate vulnerable neighbours by driving them to alternative accommodation before spending the night at his grandmother’s house in Beckton.

One neighbour told Mr Islam the police had offered her the choice to stay. He said: “She was leaning out of her window. I asked her if she was leaving and she said, ‘No, they said it’s my choice. If I die — I die in here’.”

Another resident, Debbie Barton, 59, decided to stay put. She said: “It’s been there all that time, it’s not going to hurt us. What’s going to be is going to be. It’s the East End, there have been things in that river for years.”