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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 06:33 GMT 07:33 UK
WWII bomb detonated on beach
WW II bomb on Hendon Beach
The bomb explosion was heard across Sunderland
Army bomb disposal experts have blown-up a World War II bomb which had forced thousands of people to leave their homes.

More than 3,000 residents were allowed back into their homes after bomb disposal teams carried out the controlled explosion at 0130 BST on Thursday.

The 500kg bomb was detonated on a beach less than a mile from where the bomb had been unearthed by workmen in Sunderland on Monday.

The explosion was heard across the city as the Army, who had made the bomb safe to move, carried out a controlled detonation.

German bomber

Army teams spent more than two days trying to stabilise the bomb as police imposed a 400m cordon and evacuated hundreds of homes.

Earlier on Thursday, the cordon was relaxed to 100m as the bomb was transported to nearby Hendon Beach to be blown up.

Residents living within 500 metres of the beach were warned by Northumbria Police to open all of their windows to minimise any potential damage from the explosion.

The bomb was discovered on land near the Deerness Health Centre and is believed to be from a German bomber which crashed during an air raid over Wearside.

It was disturbed by a mechanical digger and at one point started ticking before Army bomb disposal teams stabilised it.

Police 'powerless'

The evacuated families were put up at two schools and a sports complex in the city while other elderly residents were looked after at a day care centre.

A major emergency was declared in the wake of the find and city council staff worked with police and emergency services to cater for the evacuated families.

Despite the potential danger more than 1,000 people refused to leave their homes.

Northumbria Police said it was powerless to force them out but had urged them to leave for their own safety.

Wearside was badly hit during the Second World War because of its shipbuilding yards and was subjected to more than 40 German air raids in which 267 people died and more than 1,200 were injured.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Keith Akehurst
"Sunderland was a major Luftwaffe target"

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

16 Oct 02 | England
20 Sep 02 | England
06 Jun 02 | Wales
19 Apr 00 | UK
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