London City Airport shut down after discovery of WWII bomb in Thames

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Passenger jets stand on the runway of London City Airport, in London, Britain February 12, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

All flights to and from the London City Airport have been cancelled Sunday evening as the airport shut down after an unexploded World War II bomb was discovered in the nearby Thames River.

The bomb was discovered by construction workers near the King George V Dock on Sunday during pre-planned work at the airport. After its discovery, a 214-meter exclusion zone around the device was set up. Homes and properties inside the exclusion zone were also evacuated.

The airport was shut down 10:00 p.m. local time and will continue to be closed through Monday. Airport authorities are hoping to resume operations by Tuesday.

“All flights in and out of London City on Monday are canceled and an exclusion zone is in place in the immediate area,” said Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer of London City Airport, which is located in the heart of the city along the Thames River. “The airport is cooperating fully with the Met Police and Royal Navy and working hard to safely remove the device and resolve the situation as quickly as possible.”

Metropolitan Police and the Royal Navy have been deployed at the scene and have confirmed that the unexploded bomb is a “500 kg (1102 pounds) tapered end shell measuring approximately 1.5 meters (4.9 feet),” according to a statement from Metropolitan Police.

The bomb will have to be freed from the bed of dense silt in which it was found before it can be disposed of. “The timing of removal is dependant on the tides, however, at this stage we estimate that the removal of the device from location will be completed by tomorrow morning,” said Metropolitan Police on Monday.

According to Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, who is leading the bomb disposal diving unit, the device would be floated down the river and high-grade military explosive attached to it. The bomb would be exploded underwater overnight.