A World War II massive bomb exploded during a delicate operation Tuesday to defuse a five-ton device in a canal near the Baltic Sea, but no one was injured, Polish authorities said. The device – nicknamed “Tallboy” and– was thrown by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945.
A dramatic video with a drone shows the detonation throwing water hundreds of feet into the sky and the waves hitting the shore.
It was discovered last year at a depth of 39 feet, with only its nose sticking out during dredging near the port city of Swinoujscie in northwestern Poland. More than six meters long, it was loaded with 2.4 tons of explosives – equivalent to about 3.6 tons of TNT.
The Navy said earlier that it had ruled out the traditional version of a controlled explosion for fear of destroying a bridge about 500 meters away.
The Navy used a remote-controlled device to try to “deflagrate” the bomb, a technique that successfully burns an explosive charge without causing a detonation, said Adam Easton of the BBC in Warsaw.
But in the end, “the deflagration process turned into a detonation,” said Grzegorz Lewandowski, a spokesman for the Polish Navy’s 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla based in Swinoujscie.
“There was no risk to those directly involved,” he said, adding that the bomb “could be considered neutralized”.
A spokesman for Swinoujscie City Hall told AFP that he had not heard any reports of casualties during the operation by military divers or damage to the city’s infrastructure.
Before the operation began this week, Lewandowski called it a “very delicate affair,” adding that “the slightest vibration can detonate a bomb.”
About 750 locals were called in advance to evacuate from a 1.6-mile area around the bomb, although some had told AFP they would stay put.
Halina Pashkovska had said that the “main danger” for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall, where residents were sheltered during the operation.
“I’ve lived here for 50 years and there have been other bombs, but this is the first time an evacuation has taken place! Before, we just had to stay indoors,” she said.
Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways has also been halted in a 16-kilometer zone around the bomb disposal operation.
During World War II, Swinoujscie – then Swinemuende, part of Germany – was home to one of the most important Baltic bases of the German navy and was subjected to massive bombing, said historian Peter Laskowski, author of a book on the Royal Air Force. forces attacked the German cruiser Luetzow in April 1945.
The ship’s cannons were used to hold back the Red Army’s progress during the dying days of the war.
On April 16, 1945, the RAF sent 18 Lancaster bombers from the 617th Squadron, known as the Dambusters.
The bombers attacked Luetzow with 12 Tallboys, including one that failed to explode at the time.
Talboys are designed to explode underground to a target, causing shock waves that would cause destruction.