WARSAW | A huge WWII bomb exploded on Tuesday in a particularly delicate operation to defuse it at the bottom of a shipping channel in northwestern Poland, without injuring anyone, according to Polish authorities.
The Polish deminers-divers had the mission to neutralize this machine of more than five tons located near the town of Swinoujscie, described as one of the biggest bombs of the Second World War, capable of causing a small earthquake.
Nicknamed “Tallboy”, this British bomb was designed to explode underground next to a target, generating destructive shock waves: the operation, unprecedented, to defuse it promised to be particularly difficult.
It ended without damage although, despite the initial plans, the bomb did eventually explode.
For security reasons, the deminers had thus excluded from the start the traditional method of detonation, more frequent but also more violent.
A method all the more formidable in the case of a bomb over six meters long loaded with 2.4 tons of explosive – equivalent to 3.6 tons of TNT -, lying 12 meters underwater at proximity to housing and major infrastructure.
Rather, the deminers had relied on the deflagration process, consisting of combustion of the charge at a temperature below the threshold of detonation.
Finally “the process of the explosion turned into a detonation,” the spokesman for the 8th Polish Coastal Defense Flotilla, Grzegorz Lewandowski, said in a statement.
But this detonation was “without risk for the people directly engaged in the operation”, he assured and this bomb, dropped by a British plane in April 1945, “can be considered as neutralized”.
A spokesperson for the town hall of Swinoujscie told AFP that he had no mention of “no damage” to people’s health, to buildings and to the city’s infrastructure.
Some 750 residents of the 2.5 km safety zone had nevertheless been ordered to leave their homes. Traffic and maritime traffic had been stopped in this port city of 40,000 inhabitants, on the German border, scattered over 44 islands.
Swinoujscie (Swinemünde in German) was during the two world wars one of the most important bases of the German navy on the Baltic Sea.
On April 16, 1945, the Royal Air Force had launched 18 Lancaster bombers of the 617th division stationed at Woodhall Spa, 225 km from London, towards Swinoujscie where the German cruiser Lützow was located.
A total of twelve Tallboys had been released on Lützow, including the one that did not explode.