of an unexploded World War II bomb in the Thames closed London City Airport for a day.
london — All flights to and from London City Airport were canceled Monday after an unexploded World War II bomb was found buried in the muck of the River Thames near the end of a runway.
The local Evening Standard reported, “The airport will remain shut throughout Monday, affecting up to 16,000 passengers.”
Scotland Yard said, essentially, that it is a very big, very old bomb — a tapered-end shell about five feet long that weighs half a ton. Think the heft of a grand piano.
There is no word yet from the navy divers on whose bomb it was — although a good guess as to the owner might be the German Luftwaffe. Starting in 1940, it hit Britain with “the Blitz,” an eightmonth aerial bombardment of military and civilian targets. London at one point endured 57 consecutive nights of bombing. About 43,000 people died, and 1 million were left homeless.
According to an article in the Express newspaper about the Blitz, “Fears of bombing led to 750,000 domestic pets being put down. London Zoo destroyed all its poisonous snakes and spiders.”
In total, according to the Express, about 50,000 tons of highexplosive bombs were dropped during the air assault. Wide swaths of London were destroyed the bombs and resulting fires. But half the shells were duds. A spokesman for the London police said Monday that construction crews discovered this particular bomb buried under 30 feet of ooze in the Thames at the King George V Dock near one end of London City Airport. The dock area was a frequent target of German bombing during the war.
“It is lying in a bed of dense silt, and the first stage of the removal operation is to free the shell from the silt so that it can be floated for removal,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.
“The operation to remove the ordnance is ongoing in partnership with our colleagues in the Royal Navy. The timing of removal is dependent on the tides, however, at this stage we estimate that the removal of the device from location will be completed by tomorrow morning,” the statement said.
Emergency crews set up a seby curity zone of about 300 yards around the bomb for most of Monday. They later allowed local residents to return to their homes and shops.
The navy said it would tow the bomb by inflatable craft down the Thames and explode the ordnance underwater in an empty stretch of the river. More at washingtonpost.com/ news/ worldviews