Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 13:40 UK

Experts detonate WWII beach mine

Mine detonated
Large crowds watched the explosion on Saturday morning

Bomb disposal experts have detonated a 1,500lb (700kg) World War II mine which was washed up on a Somerset beach.

A mile-wide (1.6km) exclusion zone was set up around the German mine after a fisherman spotted the device on Stert Island in Bridgwater Bay on Thursday.

Large crowds lined the Esplanade at Burnham to watch Royal Navy explosives experts detonate the mine just before midday on Saturday.

Police said the operation had gone to plan and the area was now safe.

Technical difficulties and failing light meant bomb disposal experts had to call off plans to carry out a controlled explosion on Friday.

The 10ft (3m) long mine was dropped by a plane during the war to disrupt shipping lanes.

We saw a huge plume of water gush into the air which was followed by a loud bang
Mark Newman
local resident

Mark Newman, of Burnham's community website, witnessed the blast.

He said: "A large crowd of onlookers lined the seafront to watch an event that will certainly be talked about for many years to come.

"We saw a huge plume of water gush into the air which was followed by a loud bang and 'oohs' and 'ahhs' from the crowds. It was a very memorable morning."

Bomb disposal team courtesy of
Emergency teams used hovercrafts to travel across the mudflats

Despite being on Stert Island for many years, the bomb has only recently become visible with shifting sands and mud.

Bridgwater Bay is home to about 190 species of birds and several sites of historical interest, including 12th Century fish weirs.

Dr Helen Phillips, chief executive of Natural England, said: "Natural England has been working closely with the emergency services to ensure that any impact on the site is minimised.

"The fossil beds and the submerged forest, which are protected within the National Nature Reserve (NNR), are fortunately all out of range."

video and audio news
Disposal team prepare to destroy mine

Island sealed off after bomb find
11 Apr 08 |  Somerset

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