A British World War II giant Tallboy bomb has exploded while being made safe underwater by navy sappers in north-western Poland.
No one was injured.
The 5.4-tonne “earthquake” bomb was found in September 2019 beneath a waterway leading to the port of Szczecin during work to deepen the passage.
More than 750 people were ordered to leave their homes for the sappers’ operation, which was meant to take five days.
“We are leaving for this week. We are afraid. The children should go to school and they would have to go past it every day, so there is a bit of fear,” a local resident named Radoslaw told private broadcaster TVN24.
The bomb was located on the southern edge of the popular Baltic Sea resort of Swinoujscie, which, like Szczecin, was a busy Nazi Germany military port during the war.
“We dug up the moving part of the bomb, the middle part the bomb was left, as planned, so that the debris around it would keep the bomb in a fixed place, so that it would not move and the fuses would not be triggered,” Michal Jodloski from the 12th Minesweeper Squadron of the 8th Coastal Defence Flotilla told TVN 24.
Polish Navy sappers were still trying to neutralise the bomb underwater by burning out its explosives when it went off.
A spokesman for the sappers, Grzegorz Lewandowski, told the Associated Press that no one was injured as involved were a safe distance away from the blast, which was felt by many locals in Swinoujscie.
“The operation was carried out perfectly and safely and the bomb is safe now,” Mr Lewandowski said.
He noted it was the biggest such operation Polish sappers had carried out. Unexploded wartime bombs, missiles and grenades are still often found in the country.
The Tallboy bomb was designed by British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and was used by the Royal Air Force to destroy large Nazi-controlled objects though underground shocks.
The one in Swinoujscie was probably used in April 1945 on the Nazi German battleship Luetzow.
Experts do not know why it failed to explode at the time.