Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 13:28 UK

Villages to empty after bomb find

Area affected by cordon

More than 1,000 people living in two villages in North Yorkshire have left their homes to allow a World War II bomb to be detonated.

The 500lb (227kg) device was found in a field near Ebberston on Sunday by enthusiasts who are excavating a plane which crashed in the area in the 1940s.

Ebberston and nearby Allerston have been evacuated for the bomb to be made safe in a controlled blast.

Police said the primary objective was to ensure the safety of villagers.

Controlled explosion

An RAF team will be responsible for carrying out the controlled explosion at 1500 BST, police said.

Resident Ivan Ash: 'Nobody bothered to have a look inside and think, "I wonder if there's a bomb in there"'

A 300m cordon placed around the field where the bomb was found was extended to more than a kilometre ahead of the detonation.

The nearby A170 will also be closed for a short period.

Leaflets about the evacuation were delivered to Ebberston and Allerston residents on Monday night and buses were put on to take people to the village hall at Snainton, which is about two miles away.

Animals grazing on fields in the affected area were also moved.

It is thought the aircraft was a Whitley bomber which was returning to the UK after being hit by flak over Germany.

Bomb scene
Police said ensuring the safety of residents was their main objective

The pilot and two crew were said to have parachuted from the plane before it crashed in the field.

Builder Frank Wood, 60, said it was "business as usual" in Ebberston.

Mr Wood said a farmer in the area had invited people on to his land to view the explosion from a safe distance.

"I've known about the aircraft since I was a boy, and we used to dig around in the fields and look for bombs," he said.

"People here are just going about their everyday lives, they don't seem alarmed."

'Essential operation'

Jane de Wend Fenton, of Ryedale District Council, which serves the two villages, said: "Everything seems to be very well organised. Nobody is getting hysterical and it is all being calmly done.

"Some villagers are saying it [the bomb] should be left there, but it has been found now and we have to do something about it."

Acting Assistant Chief Constable Steve Read said the main objective was to "ensure the safety of people, their animals and their property".

He added: "We rely upon the co-operation of members of the public to assist us to complete this unforeseen but essential operation safely and speedily.

"Disruption to the everyday life of the area will be kept to a minimum."

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SEE ALSO
World War II bomb found in field
17 Aug 09 |  North Yorkshire

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