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Unexploded WWII bomb shuts London airport

By Julian Shea in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-02-13 02:09

Hundreds of fights cancelled after explosive device found in River Thames

London City Airport was shut all day on Monday following the discovery of an unexploded 500kg World War II bomb in the River Thames.

Up to 16,000 passengers were affected and all flights were cancelled after the bomb was found on Sunday.

A security zone was imposed and local residents were moved out of their homes while London’s Metropolitan Police and Royal Navy bomb disposal teams dealt with the device.

The nearby Docklands Light Railway station was also shut.

London City Airport, which primarily serves domestic and European routes, is close to Canary Wharf, which is home to many of London’s financial institutions. The airport is built on the site of London’s old docks, which were the target of heavy bombing during World War II.

The bomb was found during planned clearance work that was being carried out as part of expansion work at the airport.

“At around 22:00hrs on Sunday, 11 February an operational decision was made with the Royal Navy to implement a 214-meter exclusion zone to ensure that the ordnance can be safely dealt with whilst limiting any risk to the public,” said a police statement. “A number of road cordons are in place, and motorists … are urged to seek alternative routes.”

The airport handles flights for 11 airlines, including Alitalia, British Airways, and Lufthansa.

The airport’s website said 261 arrivals and departures were scheduled for Monday. Passengers were urged not to try to get to the closed terminal but to contact airlines for more details because some flights were rerouted through other airports.

The fact that the bomb was found in the water presented challenges because of the tide.

In a video statement on Twitter, Robert Sinclair, the airport’s chief executive officer, said he hopes the airport will re-open on Tuesday.

He thanked those who helped deal with the situation and said he was “very sorry” for the inconvenience caused to passengers, airline staff, business partners, and “most importantly the local community”. Sinclair said a total shutdown was “clearly the right and responsible thing to do”.

He said the bomb was slated to be removed on Monday afternoon and that work could continue into the night.

Later on in the day, an update from the official London City Airport twitter account said: “The operation is proceeding well and we anticipate it to be completed during the course of this evening. At this stage we fully expect that the airport will be open as normal tomorrow.”

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