Plymouth residents refuse to leave their homes as police extend exclusion zone around unexploded Nazi bomb found in back garden

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Residents are refusing to leave their homes as work to defuse a WW2 Nazi bomb found in a back garden in Plymouth, Devon enters a third day.

A major incident was declared on Tuesday when the bomb was found in the back garden of a house in Keyham, just outside Plymouth city centre.

The father of the property owner and a builder exposed enough of the ordnance to realise it was a suspected bomb, and police were called to the scene just after 10.30am on Tuesday.

A 200 -metre cordon was put in place as the Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team attended the area but following new guidance, the cordon has been extended to 309 metres to allow experts to work on the unexploded weapon. 

Officials began knocking on doors at 8am this morning telling residents in the extended exclusion zone to leave, with people being told to take enough clothes, medical prescriptions or equipment to last a couple of days.

But some residents took to social media, saying that despite the warnings they were not going anywhere.

Have YOU been affected? Contact [email protected] 

A 200 metre cordon was extended this morning to 309 metres as experts worked to diffuse the WW2 Nazi bomb

A 200 metre cordon was extended this morning to 309 metres as experts worked to diffuse the WW2 Nazi bomb

Hundreds of homes have been left empty as thousands of locals have been evacuated

Hundreds of homes have been left empty as thousands of locals have been evacuated

One said: ‘Not myself.

‘It’s not that easy for those with multi pet/pets with additional needs to simply ‘get out’.’

Another said: ‘I have two cats and unable to take them with me and not prepared to leave them on their own for three days.

‘Plus if it’s that dangerous for me why would I leave my cats here to die alone?

‘If I had somewhere for my cats to go then of course I would go. I don’t want them in danger either but I have no where to take them that’s the reason I’m staying.’

Another resident said they had no legal obligation to leave and would be staying put.

They said: ‘I have seven cats. I spoke to the police this morning and you have no legal obligation to leave it’s just recommended, I am literally about 20 metres away from the line and even if they extend it I’m not leaving, I’ll take responsibility for my choice.’

One wrote: ‘I’ve just had the MOD police around and they are fine about me remaining because of my personal circumstances.

‘They are absolutely lovely, took my number and assured me I’ll be able to get back in when I leave the house to go to an appointment today and tomorrow, and thanked me for making provisions for my disabled son to stay elsewhere.’

Residents inside the new 309m cordon have been forced to take precious belongings with the as they evacuate their homes

Residents inside the new 309m cordon have been forced to take precious belongings with the as they evacuate their homes

Residents in the new cordon zone began evacuating this morning

Residents packed clothes and essentials for at least a couple of days as they moved out of their homes

Residents packed clothes and essentials for at least a couple of days as they moved out of their homes 

Another local resident added: ‘I’m not very well at the moment with serious health issues and waiting for urgent surgery any day, so I’m hoping to stay at home to be honest.

‘PCC are aware that we would need accommodation, if the current advice for us does change, so it’s just a case of being patient & waiting for updates I suppose’.

Another posted: ‘My property falls outside of the cordon, but I’m unable to leave as the access to my street is part of the exclusion zone.

‘PCC are aware that we need accommodation if the advice for us does change.

‘I would sooner they help those in the exclusion zone with children first & don’t want to add to the crisis if there’s no need for me to.

A concerned resident argued: ‘Some don’t yet have accommodation sorted and can’t yet leave.

‘The council are working hard but there’s only been a short window of time to help those with disabled family members etc.

‘So stop attacking those ‘refusing’ to leave.

‘It’s more complex than simply grabbing a bag and vacating’.

Someone agreed: ‘Not everyone’s circumstances are the same.

‘Some people would rather go down with the house they’ve worked for all their life as potentially it wouldn’t be covered on insurance without a court battle.

‘Others may not have long enough left to await a new house being built’.

Another local resident added: ‘To be fair as inconvenient as it may be it’s better than leaving in a body bag.

‘It won’t be for long and if everyone helps each other and work together I’m sure the outcome will be positive.

Residents raised concerns that they hadn't organised any accommodation before they were asked to leave with one person saying: 'It's more complex than simply grabbing a bag and vacating'

Residents raised concerns that they hadn’t organised any accommodation before they were asked to leave with one person saying: ‘It’s more complex than simply grabbing a bag and vacating’

Bomb experts have been called and 'thousands of tonnes of sand' will be bagged up and placed around the bomb

Bomb experts have been called and ‘thousands of tonnes of sand’ will be bagged up and placed around the bomb

Residents carried small suitcases and bags of their belongings as they left their homes in Keyham, Plymouth

Residents carried small suitcases and bags of their belongings as they left their homes in Keyham, Plymouth

Some residents said they were unable to stay with relatives or friends and would instead be staying in a hotel

Some residents said they were unable to stay with relatives or friends and would instead be staying in a hotel

The bomb cordon zone was extended to 309 metres this morning

The bomb cordon zone was extended to 309 metres this morning

‘My thoughts are with all affected and thank you to all those pulling together to keep our Plymouth community safe’.

Others also shared their frustrations.

Mychelle wrote on a Facebook post: ‘It’s shocking as the people refusing to leave are just putting a delay on them sorting the bomb so that people can return home.’

Matt Longman, Chief Superintendent at Devon and Cornwall Police, said: ‘It means there’ll be more impact on people and I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be dealing with that.

‘Everybody’s patience that we asked for yesterday has paid off and it has allowed us to get in the best experts we can to get the safest and least disruptive plan as a multi-agency operation.’

It is estimated that at least 3,250 people have had to move from their homes and find temporary accommodation.

Plymouth City Council is paying for the residents of Keyham to stay in hotels and Airbnbs if they cannot find alternative accommodation. 

Denis White, from Beatrice Avenue, arrived at the Life Centre, a local leisure centre providing support for evacuees, this morning with his wife, Pauline. 

They have lived in their house for 53 years and this is the first time they have had to leave it.

He said: ‘They are trying to find us a hotel for tonight but we have no transport. My son picked us up this morning but we had to wait 45 minutes because he had to have a police escort to our house.’

Ruth Enoch who lives on Station Road had to move out on Tuesday with her two children, aged nine and six. 

They were taken in by a friend on Station Road just outside the cordon but now that house is inside the new exclusion zone and she and her friend have had to leave.

Ruth had no idea where she will stay or when she can return.

Her children are in school today. 

She said: ‘I did not leave with anything on Tuesday. We had five minutes to evacuate, I couldn’t pick anything up. The children are still in their school uniforms, they have been wearing them for two days now. 

A WW2 German bomb found in a back garden in Plymouth, Devon and a major incident has been declared as experts work to diffuse the device

A WW2 German bomb found in a back garden in Plymouth, Devon and a major incident has been declared as experts work to diffuse the device

The current cordon covers 1219 properties

The current cordon covers 1219 properties

Local emergency services have been on hand to assisst the bomb disposal unit

Local emergency services have been on hand to assisst the bomb disposal unit

‘I went back home last night to see if I could pick anything up but they only let me get medication, I was only in for a few seconds.’

Tom, Steff and their two dogs will stay in hotel tonight but their daughter, Josie, 3, is going to relatives. 

They live in Alexandra Road, which is just inside the cordon. 

Steff said: ‘When the list came up last night we made plans to have somewhere to stay. The police said to have a bag packed.

‘They have given us as much information as possible and the police and Navy officers have been really helpful. But I never thought my life would be affected by a Nazi bomb in 2024.’

Alan Taylor, 73 who lives on Maristow Road said: ‘I have somewhere to stay during the day, with a friend, but I’ve not got a bed. They told me to leave my windows open. I’m insured but can’t do anything about it, though I’m a bit worried.’

Ian and wife Kit Brown arrived at Plymouth Life Centre earlier this morning. They live in Kent Road, which is 25m inside exclusion zone. Mr Brown said he has no idea where they will stay tonight. 

He said: ‘We will have to see what these guys say.’

Kate Johnson, a team manager at Barnardos Family Hubs, has been organising  children’s clothes, games, toys and high chairs. 

Staff are also in the Life Centre today, tomorrow and Saturday, 8am to 8pm, to assist evacuees. 

She said: ‘We have a big team in the city, everyone is doing their bit, supporting families.’ 

Two residents have said they will be staying in a hotel until they are allowed back home. 

Kayja Cullen and Jordan Brett returned to feed their pet rabbits and collect medicine but said they were not sure when they would allowed back.

‘This could be more than 24 hours or another officer just said this might be a few days, so we don’t know what’s going on,’ Mr Brett said.

Maureen Brock, 90, who lives near to where the bomb was found, said she was not surprised a suspected device had been found in the area. 

The current cordon covers 1,219 properties. 

The city saw more than 50 bombing attacks by German aircraft during World War Two with many unexploded bombs being discovered since then.

Jess Chapan, 26, was woken with a knock on the door this morning after working a night shift.

Jess Chapman, 26, was woken with a knock on the door this morning after working a night shift

Steph Coath, 42, said that she had booked a hotel for her family and praised the staff at the leisure centre. She said: 'it makes life a lot easier to know there is somewhere to go'

Steph Coath, 42, said that she had booked a hotel for her family and praised the staff at the leisure centre. She said: ‘it makes life a lot easier to know there is somewhere to go’

The council asked residents to make arrangements to stay with friends or family while the bomb is dealt with and some have had to stay at the Plymouth Life Centre

The council asked residents to make arrangements to stay with friends or family while the bomb is dealt with and some have had to stay at the Plymouth Life Centre

Ms Brock said she had been advised to leave her home on Royal Navy Avenue, where she has lived since 1972 but she did not want to go.

She said: ‘Well I’m not surprised really, not around here… they’re always finding something.’

Some residents are refusing to leave despite locals being told to evacuate by 9am this morning.

One woman told PlymouthLive her property did not fall inside the cordon.

She said: ‘I’m not going they can come and get me.’

A local leisure centre was opened at 7am this morning to offer support to evacuees with finding accommodation.

The centre is offering a creche, faith room as well as tea, coffee and basic toiletries. 

A free shuttle bus has been put on for evacuees as police knocked on doors and asked locals  to leave their homes by 9am following the extension of the cordon.

The shuttle will pick up throughout the morning and transport families who do not have their own transport to the Plymouth Life Centre.

The local community in Keyham ahs also pulled together with one local delivery driver offering to help evacuees who were expecting parcels.

Kevin Ranford wrote on Facebook: ‘Anyone that has a delivery today (February 22) within the cordon from myself. If you want to meet up at the allocated time I’ll be happy to give you your parcel.’

While others offered to run errands and help people evacuate their homes.  

Maeen Khogiani, who is staying at the Plymotuh Life Centre said the situation was 'a disaster' adding that people are not comfortable at the centre

Maeen Khogiani, who is staying at the Plymotuh Life Centre said the situation was ‘a disaster’ adding that people are not comfortable at the centre 

The streets of Keyham, Plymouth were deserted after at least 3250 people had to move out of their homes following the extension of the cordon area

The streets of Keyham, Plymouth were deserted after at least 3250 people had to move out of their homes following the extension of the cordon area

The bomb disposal unit were called to the scene to deal with the reported bomb on Tuesday

The bomb disposal unit were called to the scene to deal with the reported bomb on Tuesday

Those in the leisure centre explained that they woke up to a knock on the door by police telling to leave as soon as possible. 

Jess Chapman, 26, was woken with a knock on the door this morning after working a night shift.

She added: ‘They were very nice and polite and asked me to leave as soon as possible.

‘I work night shifts – luckily work from home and finished at midnight so my sleep schedule is a bit different so I had been asleep only since 4am.

‘They did offer me accommodation if I had no where to go but I should be getting picked up by my boyfriend in a few hours.

‘To be brutally honest – I actually had a sneaky suspicion it could happen – call it whatever you want.

‘I was actually digging not to long ago in my own garden to make a shed and my boyfriend found some random bits of metal scrap, so I was like please stop – we live by the dockyard – anything could happen.

‘They were just random little small bits.

‘Then a couple of month later it is actually happening I feel like.. it is just crazy.

‘I will definitely be extra cautious in my garden from now on and I think there will be a metal detector just to check what is around me. It is weird to have already had that thought when just digging for a garden shed. Just to make it flat. I haven’t put it up or anything yet. It’s just a random weird hole in my garden now.

‘I’m scared in case I keep digging. I really just don’t know.’

Steph Coath, 42, of Plymouth, said: ‘We are just on the edge of the new cordon so we’ve been keeping an eye on it and when the list went live last night, we’ve actually booked a hotel for ourselves. We just didn’t want to take away the bed space from people who don’t have the ability to handle it themselves.

‘We came down here to see what there was for her (daughter), obviously they’ve got this brilliant play room, which is fantastic, because we need to keep things as normal as possible for the children.

‘The police and the Navy were all on our road and they were briliant, but it is all minute by minute.

‘They are getting information from bomb disposal and making a minute by minute decision on what they are doing and filtering down as much as they can.

‘Here at life centre they have been brilliant and it makes life a lot easier to know there is somewhere to go that is not too disruptive.

‘I was a bit stressed this morning but feel better now we are here. We have got somewhere to go and talk to people about their experiences We are all in it together, but it is such a weird situation.

‘I never expected in 2024 to be affected by a world war two bomb. 40 years living in Plymouth this is the first I’ve ever heard of it.

‘It is very weird.’

Cllr Sally Haydon has been organising provisions for families who have had to evacuate their homes while the bomb teams diffuse the WW2-era weapon

Cllr Sally Haydon has been organising provisions for families who have had to evacuate their homes while the bomb teams diffuse the WW2-era weapon

Provisions have been stockpiled at the emergency centre for the families who have nowhere else to go

Provisions have been stockpiled at the emergency centre for the families who have nowhere else to go

Police worked to evacuate locals with a nearby leisure centre offering support to evacuated families

Police worked to evacuate locals with a nearby leisure centre offering support to evacuated families

Maeen Khogiani, 32, of Plymouth, said: ‘We had to move out this morning at 9am – we knew from last night anyway but they knocked at 8am to say we need to be gone by 9am.

‘It is a disaster that everyone has had to be moved out the area. It is not comfy here but it is what it is and we can not change it.

‘Hopefully they find me somewhere but at the moment I will just stay at the life centre. If I can find accomodation for the night we will see.

‘We don’t want it but it is just something that has come unexpectedly.

‘The area were they spotted the World War Two bomb –I went through that area millions of times – my children walk that area and the park area. The children play everyday til late.

‘Only now they found it? Why has no-one discovered it before. I am just a little bit – why has that happened – why no one knows – especially if it is in someone’s garden?’

Cllr Sally Haydon said the Life Centre rescue centre had been open since 7am this morning.

She said: ‘What we are saying is if you are in the cordoned area and don’t have family or friends you can stay with – please come to the Life Centre.

‘Everything here has been all catered for – medical advice and any help people need.

‘There is a creche area for the little ones – a young people’s room with games, a prayer room, breastfeeding room and we’ve got a room for quiet time.

‘People are feeling very anxious. We all would. But the feebdack we have had is that people feel their needs are being met.

‘We are not expecting to see 3000 people. The first night we accommodated 31 families, last night 91 families -so let’s see how many we get today.

‘At the moment we are being led by military and the police and we will know nothing until the military or police tell us.

‘We want to be led by experts – the priority for me is to keep the city and its residents safe.’

A police source told PlymouthLive that a ‘gold command meeting’ involving a number of agencies will take place to formulate a plan over the coming days, and the EOD are bringing in ‘thousands of tonnes of sand’ to be bagged up and placed around the bomb.

A police source told the local newspaper that the discussion will be led by EOD experts who will explain their potential course of action

The source said they understood there was a layer of expertise ‘above EOD’ who were brought in due to the location of the bomb, its size and power.

As a result, they confirmed that the EOD are bringing in ‘thousands of tonnes of sand’ which would be bagged up and placed around the bomb.

Bomb experts from the Royal Navy’s EOD unit identified the bomb as a ‘SC500 transverse fuzed airdrop weapon,’ the Ministry of Defence confirmed.

The SC500 is a general purpose bomb which was used by the Luftwaffe during World War II – one of which was found off the north coast of Guernsey in July 2023.

The device typically weighs 500kg and measures at 80 inches long.

In an update yesterday evening, the city council confirmed the updated cordon will be in place for at least 36 hours and teams will knock on the doors of those living in the boundary from 8am today.

The council has urged those affected by the evacuation to make arrangements to stay with relatives or friends, but the local Life Centre and Beacon Centre will also be available.

However, the local authority warned that pets will not be accepted at the facilities.

Bomb disposal vehicle at the scene of a cordon on Park Side, Plymouth

Bomb disposal vehicle at the scene of a cordon on Park Side, Plymouth

Police understand the undetonated bomb was found several days before they were called on Tuesday

Police understand the undetonated bomb was found several days before they were called on Tuesday

The latest update from the council reads: ‘Following advice from the Army, the cordon around the major incident on St Michael Avenue will be extended from 200 metres to just over 309 metres from 9am on Thursday morning to allow ordnance disposal experts to work on the unexploded device.

‘This cordon is likely to be in place for at least a 36-hour period.

Devon and Cornwall Police said its priority was keeping people safe.

Ch Supt Matt Longman said the force was ‘trying to work through how we’re going to deal with this’.

He said: ‘The first thing to appreciate is just how much impact this has had on the people of Plymouth, particularly in this area.

‘There’s a huge amount of gratitude from us for the patience people have shown, just working with us.

‘Right now I just think I want the public to know we’ve got all the right people here it takes time to get the expertise needed to deal with a situation like this.’

Police understand the undetonated bomb was found several days before they were called on Tuesday.

Ch Supt Matt Longman said the people in the home had known about it but ‘the agencies that are dealing with it here only knew about it on Tuesday morning’.

Two residents have said they will be staying in a hotel until they are allowed back home.

Have YOU been affected? Contact [email protected] 

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