Residents spend night in school hall as army disposal personnel work on unexploded 500lb bomb unearthed on building site in east London

Hundreds of families in east London were spending Monday night in a school hall as army disposal experts worked to defuse an unexploded second world war bomb.

The bomb was discovered by contractors at a building site in east London at around 12.45pm, leading to the introduction of a police hazard zone and the initial evacuation of 150 people from houses and business.

bomb discovery

Ministry of Defence (MoD) experts arrived at Temple Street, Bethnal Green, at around 5pm to defuse the 500lb device and have continued to work through Monday night.

The hazard zone was extended to 200 metres, meaning more families were evacuated to a Bethnal Green academy where Tower Hamlets council set up a rest centre.

A council spokesman said: “After discussions with the army, the London fire brigade and the Metropolitan police we have agreed to extend the exclusion zone to 200 metres.

“We understand that this will cause inconvenience for a lot of residents. We urge residents to look at alternative places to stay for the night. We do have an operating rest centre at the Bethnal Green academy – where we will be providing beds, food, drinks, and wash bags.”

An MoD spokesman said: “A specialist military bomb disposal team from 11 EOD Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps are on site in Bethnal Green and are assisting the police with the ongoing incident involving a [second world war] German aircraft bomb that was discovered earlier.”

Earlier this year the squadron defused similar historic bombs in Bermondsey and Wembley.

Several roads remained closed on Monday night as police warned of significant traffic disruption and Transport for London said there was no impact to Tube or overground services but four bus routes were being diverted.

London fire brigade group manager Pat Goulbourne said: “We’d advise that people avoid the area during [Tuesday’s] rush hour and use alternative routes.”