• Germany edition
 
WWII bomb injures 17 at Hattingen construction site
The damaged excavator involed in Friday's bomb accident. Photo: DPA

WWII bomb injures 17 at Hattingen construction site

Published: 19 Sep 2008 16:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Sep 2008 16:53 GMT+02:00

An excavator apparently drove over a 250-kilogramme (550 pound) American bomb, damaging surrounding buildings. Most of the injured suffered auditory trauma from the blast, and the excavator operator suffered injuries to his hands, police in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said.

“The hole was astoundingly small for such a large bomb full of so many explosives,” Armin Gebhard, head of the Arnsberg department for military ordnance removal, told The Local. “But of course it damaged all the surrounding buildings too. We are really happy it wasn't worse.”

Police launched a large-scale rescue operation, evacuating a large area surrounding the accident, which occurred near the former Henrichshütte steel factory.

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, weapons recovery remains an important task for police and private companies throughout Germany. Allied forces dropped more than 2.7 million tonnes of explosives across Germany during the war. Some of the ordnance did not explode and has become increasingly dangerous with time and corrosion.

“Last year we cleaned up some 315 bombs that weighed more than 50 kilogrammes each, among other things,” Gebhard said. His district reports that it removed some 60,300 kilogrammes of old military ordnance in 2002 alone.

Another major ordnance find cropped up on the Baltic Sea coast this week when municipal workers spotted a four-metre long (12-foot) piece of a World War II-era torpedo near the Timmendorf beach.

Entire neighbourhoods are frequently evacuated for bomb removal, and most are defused without incident. Construction and road workers are trained to call emergency services the moment they suspect they've found unexploded ordnance, but accidents still occasionally happen.

“An accident this big hasn't happened in our area for as long as I can remember,” Gebhard said.

But people are periodically killed when they stumble upon old war explosives around the country. In 1994, three construction workers were killed and eight bystanders injured when an unexpected bomb detonated, tearing through nearby buildings and cars in Berlin. In 2006, a road worker was killed near Frankfurt when his excavator hit a bomb.

With this in mind, state authorities offer - and in some cases require - that construction companies have their lots checked for ordnance. With the help of some 150,000 aerial photos taken by Allied forces during World War II, Gebhard's department is able to assess the potential danger of a construction project.

“We are currently investigating whether the construction company involved in today's accident had their site checked,” he told The Local.

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
German lotto pulls a straight
Photo: DPA

German lotto pulls a straight

Three lucky Germans will take home a six-figure prize after an extremely rare 6/49 lottery draw. READ  

Merkel and Putin in 'land for gas' deal
Merkel with Poroshenko and Putin in June. Photo: DPA

Merkel and Putin in 'land for gas' deal

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been working on a secret peace plan for Ukraine, the Independent newspaper reported on Thursday, which would allow Russia to keep the Crimea. READ  

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut
The Ariane 5 rocket lanching in French Guiana. Photo: ESA

Space ship brings special cargo for astronaut

The last European space freighter blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, carrying a special treat for the station’s German astronaut. The launch of the German-built supply ship marks the end of an era. READ  

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty
Beer sales abroad and during the World Cup were behind the rise. Photo: DPA

World Cup victory makes Germans thirsty

Germany’s World Cup victory was also good news for the country’s brewers who saw a welcome reversal in the long-term trend of draining beer sales. READ  

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than Germans
A woman walks past a German job centre in Saxony. Photo: DPA

Foreigners less likely to get jobs than Germans

Foreigners from outside the EU suffer from a much lower employment rate in Germany than native citizens and EU immigrants, a study confirmed on Wednesday. READ  

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper
Markus Rehm. Photo: DPA

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper

German athletics officials said on Wednesday they would not nominate the country's long jump champion Markus Rehm for the European championships because of fears his prosthetic leg gives him an unfair advantage. READ  

Second man arrested after synagogue attack
The synagogue on Tuesday after the attack. Photo: DPA

Second man arrested after synagogue attack

Police arrested a second suspect on Wednesday in connection with an attempted arson attack in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in western Germany. Another man who said he was Palestinian has denied involvement. READ  

German women fall short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women fall short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Photo: DPA

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is among the club's staff and players who could not join a week-long tour to the USA on Wednesday because of visa problems. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,241
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd