Polish military divers are due to begin a delicate operation on Monday to defuse a massive World War II bomb at the bottom of a channel near the Baltic Sea.
The five-tonne device — nicknamed “Tallboy” and also known as an “earthquake bomb” — was dropped by the Royal Air Force in an attack on a Nazi warship in 1945.
It was discovered last year during dredging close to the port city of Swinoujscie — formerly Swinemunde, a part of Germany — in the far northwest of Poland.
“It’s a world first. Nobody has ever defused a Tallboy that is so well preserved and underwater,” Grzegorz Lewandowski, spokesman for the Polish Navy’s 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla based in Swinoujscie, told AFP.
Around 750 local residents are being evacuated from an area of 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) around the bomb and the operation is expected to last up to five days.
But some residents told AFP they would be staying put.
Halina Paszkowska said the “main danger” for her was the risk of catching Covid-19 in a sports hall where residents are being given shelter during the operation.
Paszkowska said she also had to look after her 88-year-old mother, adding: “I’ve lived here 50 years and there have been other bombs, but this is the first time there’s an evacuation! Before, we just had to stay indoors.”
– ‘A very delicate job’ –
Maritime traffic on the navigation channel and surrounding waterways will be suspended in an area of 16 kilometres around the bomb disposal operation.
“The first two or three days will be preparations. Our bomb disposal divers will scrape around the bomb, which is embedded in the bottom of the channel at a depth of 12 metres. Only its nose is sticking out,” Lewandowski said.