Video & Gallery: Suffolk beach bomb rocks resort

A ROYAL Navy bomb disposal team has blown up a World War Two mine after it was discovered by a swimmer near a Suffolk beach.

A ROYAL Navy Bomb disposal team conducted a controlled explosion in Southwold after a mine was discovered on the beach – but it failed to go off as planned and it had to be repeated.

Hundreds of people had lined the cliff top to watch the drama unfold at 6pm last night and the controlled explosion was counted down by the crowd.

Spectators cheered as the small explosion sprayed water into the air, but the team had to repeat it because it was not entirely successful.

A second attempt to blow it up about 30 minutes later produced a bigger bang and the operation was declared a success.

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Divers had surrounded the object with 200 sandbags after identifying it as a 20lb Second World War mine.

Earlier in the day, an area of the beach spanning four groynes, close to the Lord Nelson pub, was cordoned off as further investigations took place following the discovery of the device by a swimmer on Tuesday. At around 5pm divers were wading out to waist height as they surrounded the mine with sandbags.

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Onlookers included TV stars Geoffrey Palmer, who appeared in As Time Goes By and Butterflies, and Claire Skinner, who stars in the BBC’s Outnumbered.

Earlier in the day holidaymakers were forced to evacuate the beach and promenade as the Royal Navy bomb disposal team from Portsmouth was called in to assess the mine. At around 12.15pm a diver went out to the point marked by an orange buoy to take photos of the device, which was submerged at high tide.

Throughout the day, crowds waited patiently to see if a controlled explosion would be required to make the object safe. Armed with cameras, visitors and locals of all ages lined the cliff top as they stood for hours watching the bomb disposal experts at work.

One of those affected was Alison Hawkins, from Buckinghamshire. She had been spending time in Southwold with a group of eight friends and two teenage girls, but was most surprised when they were forced to leave their rented beach hut yesterday at 11.15am. “We’ve been here a fortnight, the children have been swimming in there. Some people have been swimming in that area this morning,” she said.

As the day went on, St Edmunds Church and Sole Bay Ministry Team provided refreshments to those who had been evacuated in the town’s school hall.

The device was first discovered on Tuesday by a swimmer. Coastguards were called to the scene at about 6.30pm and found the device, which measured about 15in (38cm) in diameter, half-buried in sand on the beach, below the high-water mark.

Joe Annis, head beach lifeguard for Waveney, said: “It is because we have had extremely high tides with a northerly wind which has unfortunately resulted in extreme scouring in the area.

“We have lost up to two metres of sand and shingle in some areas around Lowestoft and Southwold, and it has exposed all sorts of nasties.”

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