Exeter students evacuated as far as Taunton after World War Two bomb found
Students say they gathered in the Forum waiting to be moved to hotels and accommodation
Exeter Uni students have been evacuated from their halls and private homes after a suspected WW2 bomb was found yesterday morning.
Pictures from last night appear to show a large number of people gathered in the Forum without face masks or social distancing.
Some students have been evacuated to hotels in Taunton, whilst others have been sent to empty halls of residence in Exeter.
One student told The Tab Exeter she was evacuated from her Birks accommodation around midday yesterday, and told to take an overnight bag and valuables to the Great Hall.
She next heard from the uni around 4pm: “We were told we needed to stay in a hotel. At this point it was just Clydesdale and Birks block F, but late the situation spread to pretty much all of the accommodations near the incident sight.
“We had to go to The Sanctuary to be registered and told which hotel we were staying at. At this point, campus was completely heaving with students.
“We were put on coaches and sent to the hotel [in Exeter] which was actually very comfortable.
“It’s been an incredibly weird 24 hours.”
Another student told us he was evacuated to a hotel in Taunton and that “it was all better planned than expected.”
Others were not so lucky however, as one student revealed: “At 2am [this morning] they told us to be out of our accommodation by 7am. We got to campus and waited outside in the cold.
“Two of my flatmates weren’t on the list so didn’t have any accommodation to go to and had to stay with a friend.
“I’m in Taunton by myself and have no idea what to do about food or when we’ll be going back.”
Others reported being sent to empty halls without “pillows, duvets, towels or toilet roll.”
Students told Devon Live they had to “wait in the freezing cold for hours last night”, whilst they were being relocated to alternative accommodation.
The university said “there were some issues” sorting transport and accommodation whilst students were evacuated, “but they have probably been relocated by now.”
The university registrar emailed students this morning to say: “Work will continue today relating to the device which was found yesterday on private land at Glenthorne Road to the west of campus.
“From 9.00am this morning an expanded cordon will be in place. This is an additional measure to allow the authorities to undertake the necessary work.”
The email continued: “Students who are affected will have been contacted by the Accommodation Team and relocated. We will support those who are affected until the situation is resolved and buildings are reopened.
“We will communicate directly later today by email with those students who have been relocated.
“If you are in private accommodation in the city and you have been asked to relocate, please follow the instructions you will have been given by local authorities.
“If you were planning to return this weekend to accommodation in any of the affected buildings, please do not do so.
“As part of our management of the incident it will be helpful to keep campus as quiet as possible over the weekend so we are asking students not to come to campus unless they have essential pre-scheduled appointments, such as a COVID-19 test.
“The COVID-19 tests booked for the Sports Hall today will take place in the Lemon Grove – please attend at your pre-booked time.
“For all other activities, such as accessing study spaces / cafes, we will let you know when it is appropriate to return.
“If you need further assistance of any kind, please contact our Incident Line and we will support you.”
In a statement given to The Tab Exeter, an Exeter Uni spokesperson said: “A huge thank you to colleagues, volunteers and partners who have done extraordinary work over the past 24 hours to relocate around 1000 students to support the police and military deal with an unexploded World War 2 bomb.
“Thank you to our students for their patience and co-operation and we will continue to do everything we can to support our community.”
A spokesperson for the University of Exeter told Devon Live: “We did relocate students, mostly last night. There were some issues getting accommodation and transport sorted, and some were still waiting until this morning.
“But they have probably been relocated by now.”