Polish divers to defuse Second World War 'earthquake' bomb dropped by UK in world-first operation
A bouy marks the location of a 'Tallboy' bomb from WWII in the Piast Canal - LUKASZ SZELEMEJ / AFP via Getty Images
Polish experts in the disposal of underwater bombs have launched a "world first" to defuse a massive RAF Tallboy "earthquake" bomb that lies at the bottom of a canal in the northwestern coastal town of Swinoujscie.
The bomb, designed by Barnes Wallace, weighing approximately 12,000 pounds, was built to smash targets with the shock waves caused by the detonation of 5,200 pounds of explosives.
Historians believe that when the Lutzow, a German pocket battleship that was moored in the canal in April 1945, was thrown from the 617 squadron "Dambuster", the Tallboy was dropped by the attacks and sank.
Around 750 civilians have been told to leave their homes if divers work on the bomb during an operation that could take five days. Maritime traffic has also ceased and the authorities have put a total of 2.5 kilometers around the bomb.
People living 500 meters out in a ring can stay, but have been warned not to stand by windows or go onto balconies or patios.
"Only the nose sticks out," said Lieutenant Commander Grzegorz Lewandowski, a Polish Navy spokesman, to the AFP news agency. "It's a world first. Nobody has ever defused a tallboy that is so well preserved and underwater.
"The bomb is dangerous because it contains a lot of explosives," he added at a press conference. "The chemical processes that have taken place in the bomb over time mean that any impact, vibration, change in pressure caused by moving it can cause it to explode."
Divers working in 39 feet of water must remove some of the mud surrounding the bomb in order to perform a deflagration operation. For this purpose, the explosive charge of the bomb is burned with a remote-controlled device without it exploding.
Destruction of the bomb with a controlled explosion was impossible due to its proximity to bridges.
The danger of the operation, which will disrupt life in Swinoujscie, has resulted in at least some people packing their bags for the long term.
"We're going for a week," one resident told TVN, a Polish television station. "Our children have to pass it every day on their way to school to make us worry a little."
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