Polish Navy divers on Monday began a five-day operation to defuse a massive unexploded World War II “earthquake” bomb at the bottom of a channel near the Baltic Sea.
The delicate operation involving the device — nicknamed “Tallboy” — forced more than 750 people to evacuate their homes, officials said.
The 19-foot-long bomb — which Britain’s Royal Air Force used in an attack on Nazi warship Lutzow in 1945 — weighs nearly 12,000 pounds, including more than 5,000 pounds of explosives.
“It’s a world first. Nobody has ever defused a Tallboy that is so well preserved and underwater,” Grzegorz Lewandowski, a spokesman for the Polish Navy’s 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla based in Swinoujscie, told the AFP.
Roughly 750 local residents had to be evacuated from a more than a mile wide area around the bomb.
“We are leaving for this week. We are afraid. The children should go to school and they would have to go past it every day, so there is a bit of fear,” a local resident named Radoslaw told the local news outlet, TVN24.
Some residents, however, told the AFP that they were staying put.
Halina Paszkowska, who looks after her 88-year-old mom, said the “main danger” for her was the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the duration of the operation.
“I’ve lived here 50 years and there have been other bombs, but this is the first time there’s an evacuation! Before, we just had to stay indoors,” Paszkowska said.
Meanwhile, Lewandowski called the operation “a very delicate job.”
“The tiniest vibration could detonate the bomb,” he said.
To defuse the explosive, the Navy divers will use a technique known as deflagration to burn the its charge without causing a detonation by using a remotely controlled device to penetrate through the shell to begin combustion.
Tallboys were designed to explode underground next to a target, causing shock waves that would lead to destruction.
With Post wires
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