12,000lb RAF 'Tallboy' bomb EXPLODES while being remotely defused underwater at Polish port: Houses in the town are shaken but nobody is hurt as WWII explosive detonates
A British World War II Tallboy bomb has exploded while being remotely defused underwater in northwestern Poland.
Dramatic footage captured the moment the massive 12,000lb 'earthquake' bomb unexpectedly detonated sending up a huge spout of water.
No one was injured in the incident, with military divers positioned at a safe distance. But the blast from the RAF device rattled nearby houses in the town which contains aliquefied natural gas terminal.
The bomb, designed by British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallace, was found in September 2019 beneath a waterway leading to the port of Szczecin during work to deepen the passage.It was dropped by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945.
More than 750 people were evacuated for the sappers' operation, as it was located on the southern edge of the popular Baltic Sea resort of Swinoujscie, which, like Szczecin, was a busy Nazi Germany military port during the war.
Bomb disposal experts were trying to neutralize the bomb underwater through burning out its explosives, but it went off in the process.
A spokesman for the sappers, Grzegorz Lewandowski, said no one was injured as all the sappers were at a safe distance from the blast, which was felt by local residents in the town of Swinoujscie.
Lewandowski said the bomb is now considered safe.
Ahead of the operation, officials had noted that it would have a50-50 chance of success.
Lieutenant Commander Grzegorz Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish Navy's 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla, said:'The deflagration process turned into detonation.
'The object can be considered neutralised, it will not pose any more threat to the Szczecin-Swinoujscie shipping channel.'
He added that all divers were outside the danger zone when the bomb detonated.
The blast was reportedly felt in parts of the port city of Swinoujscie.
Video of the blast shows a large amount of water being thrown into the air due to the underwater impact.
It comes after hundreds of residents were evacuated on Monday as Polish military divers began the delicate operation to defuse the massive World War II bomb in a channel near the Baltic Sea.
'It's a world first. Nobody has ever defused a Tallboy that is so well preserved and underwater,' Grzegorz Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish Navy's 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla based in Swinoujscie, told AFP at the time.
The Navy announced on its Facebook page earlier this week that the operation had begun and that it was planned to take until Friday, depending on the weather.
Michal Jodloski, the head of the diving team, told reporters later on Monday that the operation was 'going according to plan' but work was slow as only one diver at a time was being allowed to work on the bomb because of the risks.
A total of around 750 local residents were being evacuated from an area of 1.6 miles around the bomb and the operation was expected to last up to five days.
But some residents told AFP they would be staying put.
Halina Paszkowska said the 'main danger' for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the operation.
Paszkowska said she also had to look after her 88-year-old mother, adding: 'I've lived here 50 years and there have been other bombs, but this is the first time there's an evacuation! Before, we just had to stay indoors.'
Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways will be suspended in an area of 10 miles around the bomb disposal operation.
'The first two or three days will be preparations. Our bomb disposal divers will scrape around the bomb, which is embedded in the bottom of the channel at a depth of 12 metres. Only its nose is sticking out,' Lewandowski said.
'It's a very delicate job... The tiniest vibration could detonate the bomb,' he said, pointing out that the option of a controlled explosion has been ruled out for fear of destroying a bridge some 500 metres away.
Before the bomb exploded, the navy divers were instead using a technique known as deflagration to burn the explosive charge without causing a detonation, using a remotely controlled device to pierce through the shell to begin combustion.
The bomb was six metres (19 feet) long and had 2.4 tonnes of explosives - equivalent to around 3.6 tons of TNT.
Tallboys were designed to explode underground next to a target, triggering shock waves that would cause destruction.
During World War II the area was home to one of the German navy's most important Baltic bases and the area was subjected to massive bombardments, said historian Piotr Laskowski, the author of a book on the Royal Air Force raid on Germany's Lutzow cruiser in April 1945.
The ship's cannons were being used to hold back the advance of the Red Army in the dying days of the war.
On April 16, 1945, the RAF sent 18 Lancaster bombers from the 617th Squadron - known as the 'Dambusters'.
The bombers released 12 Tallboys on the Lutzow but one failed to explode and one of the planes crashed on the island of Karsibor, killing all seven crew on board.
The ship survived the raid but was eventually seized by the Soviet army and used for target practice after the war. It sank in the Baltic in September 1947.