Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses in Bath after the discovery of an unexploded World War II bomb. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
BATH, England, May 13 (UPI) -- An unexploded German bomb from World War II has disrupted the lives of hundreds of people in the city of Bath, 120 miles west of London.
Residents, business owners and workers evacuated their properties after a 500-pound device was found just 3 feet beneath a playground at the former Royal High Junior School.
Many spent the night hunkered down at the city's race course and were warned that they would not be able to return to their homes for 48 hours.
Around 1,000 homes were evacuated and a 300-yard exclusion zone set in place following the find late Thursday afternoon.
The bomb was unearthed by contractors using a digger at the former school, which is being turned into housing. Authorities spent the evening knocking on doors, telling people to leave the area.
Bomb disposal experts from the army said Friday that they planned on using 250 tons of sand to build a protective barrier around the bomb.
"Once this barrier is in place, they will remove the device with a police escort to a safe location away from the Bath area, where they will carry out a controlled explosion," said a spokesman for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
Robin Squire, from Acorn Properties which has been working on the school site, said there had been "a history of bombs in the area" and "people on site were warned what to look for and then basically we had to put the situation in the hands of the police and the army."
Some residents living close to the edge of the exclusion zone decided against evacuating.
"The bomb's been there for 70 years," a local called Glyn told the BBC. "I've lived long enough with that bomb next to me and if it was going to go off, it would have gone off by now."
Roads in the area were closed, bringing disruption to that part of the ancient city of Bath, which is famed for its ancient Roman spa and historic buildings.
Police Chief Inspector Kevin Thatcher of Avon and Somerset Police urged people "not to be alarmed." He added that bomb experts were "working as quickly as they can to remove the device."