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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK


WW2 bomb closes Paddington line

Army teams will defuse the bomb

Rail services from Reading to London's Paddington station face a four-hour shut down on the day the line reopens - after a 2,000lb unexploded bomb was found near tracks.

About 3,000 people will be evacuated from their homes on Thursday before army bomb disposal officers defuse the World War II bomb.

The bomb - which contains 50% high explosives - was found on a building site in Woodley, near Reading.

Its discovery means rail services between Reading and Paddington will be suspended between 0945 BST and 1400 BST on Thursday, the day the line reopens 16 days after the Ladbroke Grove rail crash.

Trains will terminate at Reading and Twyford and connecting bus services will be provided for commuters.

The line is just 175m from where the bomb was found.

'No danger'

Residents within a 500m radius of the bomb will be moved.

Seven schools will be closed during the operation.

Superintendent Dave Murray, of Thames Valley Police, said: "There is no danger to the public while the bomb remains in its current state.

"Military engineers are on site and are doing preparatory work to allow the disposal process to begin on Thursday morning."

It is hoped all residents will be out of their homes by 0900 BST.

Evacuees from the 1,200 homes being evacuated will be able to use the nearby Loddon Valley Leisure Centre while the bomb is made safe.

Five-hour operation

Army bomb disposal expert Major Bob Tomkins, of the Royal Engineers, said: "The bomb has been identified as a German World War II 1,000kg device which contains 50% high explosives.

"It is very unlikely to go off but of course we must be prepared for the worst case."

He said the bomb would be defused in four phases, with the fuse being immobilised and the explosives removed in an operation that was likely to last five hours.

Emergency services will be on hand as the operation gets under way.

Wokingham District Council is advising people unsure whether they have to be evacuated to call 0118 9746000.

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