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Bomb Detonated in Exeter – Reality Check of the Possible Damage

In a recent development, on 28 February 2021, a controlled detonation of a bomb that was possibly a ‘leftover’ from the Second World War was carried out in Exeter, a city in England. BBC reported that the bomb had been found on private land close to the University of Exeter’s Streatham campus on 26 February 2021. The bomb is reportedly the Hermann bomb that was used in the war by the Nazis in 1942 when the city was heavily attacked by the Germans.

Though the process was carried out with much surveillance, the damage to structural property resulted in restricting of any human presence around the site. Large pieces of metal debris hit the buildings nearby and the blast had left a big crater in the ground. More than 2600 households and 12 university hall residents were evacuated before the 2,200 lb bomb could be detonated. The whole process involved evacuation, proper information transfer and investigation by a proper team.

This raises concerns about the consequences of an accidental blast of similar bombs left in various parts of the world. Unlike, the United Kingdom several areas in Africa and Asia are not well-equipped to deal with such scenarios. Africa has been known to be violence ridden and instances of mine explosions are not uncommon. While the UK dealt with the detonation process on proper orders from the Royal Navy bomb disposal team, instances like these are common in Africa. The death of 3 UN Peacekeepers in a mine blast at Bamako, Mali in May 2020 had led the world to discuss the conditions that the people face in unstable regions of the world. 

In fact, such instances shake the basic fundamentals of survival and rights in conflict zones. Mali is one such example where the people are facing the atrocities of Islamist insurgency. It is important to ponder upon chances of non-state actors coming across such remnants of the Second World War. 

It is interesting to note that reports of the structural damage upto 100 meters show the power of such bombs. The menace is well understood by all and yet there are constant struggles to develop and test more bombs and weapons. This incident proves that instead of developing new weapons, it is important to destroy such ‘left overs’ to ensure the safety and security of people. There are several cities around the world which were attacked during wars or face insurgency or are just facing discordant circumstances. They need special focus to avoid any mishaps in future. This could be one of the important tenets to be incorporates in agencies of the United Nations or other such global governance institutions.