BOMB disposal experts have exploded the Second World War bomb that was discovered in Portsmouth Harbour earlier today.
The 500lb German munition was destroyed during as controlled explosion a mile-and-a-half off the coast of the Isle of Wight at 4pm.
Discovered at 5am this morning by a barge dredging the harbour, the device has caused widespread chaos across the city, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of shoppers and residents in Qunwharf Quays and disrupting rail, bus and ferry services.
It is the third such device to be uncovered in the harbour in as many months, by workers preparing the area for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers.
‘Last year we had more than 450 call-outs around the UK so this is really business as usual for us,’ said Commander Del McKnight, the commanding officer of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Diving Squadron, which destroyed the munition.
‘We’ve had more call-outs to Portsmouth than we would usually see, becau se of the extent of the dredging works being done to make way for HMS Queen Elizabeth, but we have teams on standby at 10 minutes notice around the UK ready to deal with these things.’
Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, was relieved by the operation and said safety always had to come first.
But she hinted that residents should be braced to expect more explosive being uncovered as the dredging of the harbour continues.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘There were so many bombs dropped on Portsmouth during the Second World War.
‘I think as the dredging continues in for the new aircraft carriers residents need to be prepared for more bombs to be found.’
She also praised the courage of the navy bomb disposal team who destroyed the device.
She added: ‘The bomb disposal team does a brilliant job.
‘I have been to their around their base and had a chance to meet them. They’re a fantastic group of people and they’re very brave.’