Exclusion zone extended around Temple Street UXB site
PUBLISHED: 10:28 11 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:37 11 August 2015
The ‘danger’ zone thrown up around the unexploded Second World War bomb unearthed in London’s East End was extended during the night as Army bomb disposal experts worked to make the device safe.
The 300ft ‘exclusion’ area around Temple Street in Bethnal Green was extended to 600ft, leading to more people being evacuated between 11pm and midnight.
The school hall at Bethnal Green Academy in nearby Gosset Street was turned into a makeshift rest centre as 150 people spend the night there, unable to get back into their homes after the 500lb bomb was found by contractors at a building site yesterday lunchtime.
Army disposal experts are still at the site, the Ministry of Defence said, nearly 24 hours later.
Tower Hamlets Council extended the barriers to 200 metres on advice from the Army, Fire Brigade and police.
“We understand this will cause inconvenience,” a Town Hall statement said. “We urge people to look at alternative places to stay for the night.”
Beds, food, drinks, and wash bags were provided at the school while a bomb disposal team from the Royal Logistics Corps based in Essex was working at the site.
Meanwhile, councillors are looking into why Town Hall media officers refused to tell journalists where the rest centre was—evoking what appeared to some as wartime press censorship about unexploded bombs.
The East London Advertiser was told by a council media officer they were not letting the media know where the rest centre was “because we are concerned that residents may be ‘hassled’ by members of the press”—even though journalists were already talking to people at the centre who were using social media to contact the newspaper anyway.
Freelance photographer and ‘Love Wapping’ blogger Mark Baynes emailed Cllr John Pierce last night about the secrecy and the accusation that “residents may be hassled by members of the press.”
Cllr Pearce chairs a new Transparency Commission set up by Tower Hamlets’ Mayor John Biggs to end years of secrecy by the previous ousted mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Baynes wrote: “If this sort of behaviour is ever repeated by the council press office, it is confirmation that nothing has changed at the Town Hall.”
An embarrassed Cllr Pearce has responded promising to raise his own concerns with “the appropriate officers and the Mayor”.
He told Baynes: “Leave it with me and I (will) come back to you once I have had conversations (with) colleagues and officers.”
The Town Hall’s media office, meanwhile, relented and issued a further statement at 10pm last night disclosing where the rest centre was—an hour after it was already posed on the Advertiser’s website.
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