The Associated Press
PORTLAND, EnglandÄAn army bomb squad worked yesterday to defuse a half-ton German bomb dating to World War II as some of the nearly 4,000 evacuees were treated to music from the war years.
British media reports called the operation in Portland, on England's southwest coast, the country's largest planned evacuation since the war.
The 1,100-pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by a German bomber during a July 1941 raid, was buried beneath a soccer field. Diggers surveying for mineral deposits found the bomb two weeks ago.
Unexploded leftovers from the Luftwaffe's blitz are regularly found in England, but they usually are smaller bombs or anti-aircraft shells.
Maj. Nick Clark, directing an eight-man bomb squad from the army's Royal Engineers, said yesterday the work was expected to take another day.
The team used a remote-controlled robot Saturday to drill into the bomb shell. Capt. Mike Lobb removed the fuse cap and injected the fuse with a saline solution to prevent electricity from passing through the wire.
Yesterday, Lobb bored holes into various parts of the shell to ''steam out'' the 54-year-old explosives inside.
Meanwhile, many of the evacuees were staying with friends or relatives while several hundred more camped out at a mobile home park, where Saturday's live entertainment included singers of 1940s nostalgia.
Nine people refused to move out. About 200 officers patrolled the evacuated area to prevent looting, and said those remaining would be arrested if they went outside.
One of those staying, 65-year-old Martin Rogers, said he didn't feel threatened by the bomb. ''A quarry crew with heavy machinery couldn't set the thing off, so I don't think there's anything to worry about.''
He said the find had stirred anti-German sentiments in many Portland residents, saying that his German wife Lore, also 65, had come home in tears several times because people directed anti-German insults at her.
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