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Airport shuts as huge WWII bomb is found in river

Danger: Royal Navy divers begin the operation to remove the 1,000lb shell at King George V Dock, east London

ROYAL Navy and police teams worked through the night to transport a massive World War II bomb down the Thames from London City Airport.

Disposal experts were guiding the 5ft unexploded shell down the river using a flotation device before attaching ‘high-grade military explosives’ in a controlled explosion this morning.

The 1,000lb German bomb was found by construction workers in silt 50ft underwater at King George V Dock in east London on Sunday.

Grounded: Planes stand idle at London City Airport. Among passengers affected were Spurs fans going to Italy PICTURES: PA

Its discovery led to the closure of the airport with the suspension of hundreds of flights and the evacuation of homes in a 700ft exclusion zone.

Lt Cdr Jonny Campbell, officer in charge of the diving unit, said the bomb will be exploded underwater.

‘There’s a long night ahead for a few people, not least my Royal Navy bomb disposal divers, using our tried-and-tested techniques to remove the threat,’ he said last night. ‘We assess we’ve got good control, that the bomb is in relatively good condition, but we want to make sure it’s done properly.’ Newham Council officials went door-to-door yesterday to make sure residents were safely out of their homes.

‘A rest centre has been opened where bedding and refreshments are available for families who have been unable to stay with family or friends,’ said the council. A local couple who only gave their names as the Kullers said they were woken at 2am by officers ‘banging on our door’ asking them to leave.

Blitz: Heinkel bomber over London docks in 1940

Among thousands of passengers affected by the airport closure were Tottenham Hotspur fans heading to Italy for a Champions League game against Juventus.

The club advised fans flying to Milan to ‘contact their airline as soon as possible’ ahead of the match in Turin tonight.

The Met Police confirmed last night the bomb had been removed from the river bed and taken to a secondary location in the dock.

The Luftwaffe dropped around 25,000 tonnes of bombs on east London’s docks during the Blitz.