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‘Delicate operation’ at Birmingham WW2 bomb site – BBC News

Image caption Police have thanked residents for their patience since the cordon was put in place

Bomb disposal experts in Birmingham are taking part in a “major, delicate operation” to make a wartime bomb safe.

A major route into the city remains closed for a second day, rail services are affected and people have been evacuated from their homes.

The bomb disposal team said 13 lorry loads of sand had been brought in to create a “sizeable igloo” around the 250kg (551lb) bomb.

West Midlands Police praised the bravery of the team.

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Mike Luedicke, who is co-ordinating the operation and is deputy commander of the Army’s UK bomb disposal unit, said they “very confident it was a classic Second World War German air drop bomb”.

Complex case

“It’s called an SC2 50 – 250kg in weight, 139kg of high explosives,” he said.

He said a “large cave of sand bags” consisting of 250 tonnes of sand had been put around the site.

How the bomb measures up

SC 250 (Sprengbombe Cylindrisch 250)

250kg (550lb)

Approximate weight

164cm (65 in)


  • 8 times the weight of an average labrador retriever (30kg/66lb)

  • 11cm (4 in) shorter than the average man in England (175.3cm/5ft 9in)

West Midlands Ambulance Service

Major Luedicke said it had been a particularly “complex” case because the fuses were “on the underside and pressed into the earth and so our process of identification and diagnostics has been a real challenge”.

“We need to either magnetically or chemically freeze the fuses to essentially put a handbrake on them,” he said.

The A38(M) Aston Expressway, linking the city centre with the M6, has been closed since Monday morning.

Exit and entry slip roads at the M6 at junction six, Spaghetti Junction, remain closed.

London Midland rail services on the Cross City Line between Lichfield and Birmingham New Street have been suspended.

Image copyright Paige Collins
Image caption About 80 people were forced to spend the night in a rest centre

Delays of at least 30 minutes are being reported on the roads as motorists take alternative routes.

Radio WM reporter James Fanning said his journey from Aldridge to the city centre took nearly 2.5 hours, rather than the usual 45 minutes.

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” he said. “I must have take the worst route possible.”

Families evacuated

A 500m cordon was set up after the discovery at about 09:45 BST on Monday and hundreds of homes and businesses evacuated.

About 80 people were forced to spend the night in a rest centre, the Red Cross said.

Paige Collins, of Aston, and her 10-month-old daughter, were among residents who spent the night at Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr.

“We’re in a dusty gym – I think it is normally used for martial arts. It is a bit draughty,” she said.

Ms Collins said it was mainly families there and she slept for about “an hour” on a mat and sheet after putting her daughter to sleep in her pushchair.

“I was trying to go into my house about 2:45pm [on Monday] and the police were at the bottom of my road saying everyone has to be evacuated,” she said.

Image copyright Paige Collins
Image caption Volunteers have provided food and drinks to evacuated residents

Residents were told they could be there until about 18:00 BST, she said.

‘Humbled by bravery’

National Rail Enquiries said trains between the city and Lichfield Trent Valley were expected to be cancelled or amended until the end of the day and rail tickets would be accepted on buses.

Ch Supt Chris Johnson, of West Midlands Police, said he was “humbled by the bravery” of the bomb disposal experts who had been at the site overnight making the device safe.

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