Gas cylinder sparks bomb scare

Ref shs 1166 Gas canister. Picture: Steve Sumner

Ref shs 1166 Gas canister. Picture: Steve Sumner - Credit: Archant

The bomb squad was called to Sidmouth beach for the second time in little more than a week on Wednesday afternoon due to an object that ‘could have been mistaken for a torpedo’.

Royal Navy experts arrived at low tide to extract a rusty metal tube from the shingle in front of the sailing club.

The object turned out to be a gas cylinder, but could have resulted in unnecessary emergency call-outs.

Chief Petty Officer diver Darren Powell, from the Plymouth-based bomb disposal unit, said: “It could have been mistaken for the front of a torpedo. It had been in the sea some time.”

He added that around 60 per cent of call-outs were non-dangerous but the policy is always to err on the side of caution.

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His team covers the whole of the coastline - all the way up to Liverpool.

They get called out three times a week and in the last seven days have attended a submarine smoke marker and a German World War Two incendiary bomb.

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The squad could not see the cylinder on the beach and had to use to a metal detector to approximate its location and then dig it out, before it was towed off the shingle by a Sidmouth Lifeboat tractor.

The five-foot cylinder, rusty and covered in barnacles, will now be taken away by the district council as scrap metal.

Had it been ordnance, it would have been destroyed with a controlled explosion, which CPO(D) Powell said he could not remember happening in Sidmouth in recent years.

The incident was the third time in a fortnight that Beer Coastguard was called out in relation to the mystery cylinder.

The Herald reported how the bomb disposal team was called to Sidmouth last Tuesday afternoon.

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