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WWII bombs defused after huge evacuation

The Local · 4 Dec 2011, 18:14

Published: 04 Dec 2011 13:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Dec 2011 18:14 GMT+01:00

Despite the rain which stymied plans some had to spend the day outside, officials said that the evacuation of around 45,000 people by 9 a.m. was successful. It was the biggest such evacuation in Germany since the war.

Some 2,500 fire, police, medical and technical personnel as well as city officials were involved in organising the evacuation. Around 1,000 people spent Sunday morning checking to make sure everyone had left the 1.8 kilometre exclusion zone by 9 a.m. local time.

Bomb disposal experts were able to begin their work on the massive British bomb earlier than expected - and once they had defused that one, then worked on a smaller but more unstable American bomb nearby. After they were successfully defused, a smoke bomb also found in the area was blown up in a controlled explosion, marking the end of the dangerous operation.

The enormous 1.8 tonne bomb, dropped by the Royal Air Force, was only discovered thanks to the unusually low level of the Rhine, due to a severe lack of rain over the last few weeks. It was discovered on November 20, alongside a 125-kilogramme American bomb.

Seven shelters were set up in schools in the city and the surrounding area, with space for 12,000 people.

Early in the morning ambulances evacuate 200 elderly residents of retirement homes. A prison and two hospitals had already been cleared over the last few days. All rail connections to Koblenz were suspended from 7 a.m. and roads leading to the city were closed.

Koblenz was hit particularly hard by aerial bombardments during the war due to its position as an important military centre and transport hub. A bomb disposal in 1999 saw around 15,000 city residents forced to leave their homes.

More than six decades after the war, finding unexploded Allied bombs is still common. Authorities believe there are still some 3,000 bombs buried beneath Berlin alone, and World War II devices are regularly discovered in the capital during construction work.

Story continues below…

In June 2010, a 500-kilogramme Allied bomb exploded and killed three sappers and seriously injured two others in the city of Göttingen as they prepared to defuse it.

DAPD/DPA/AFP/The Local/smd/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:37 December 4, 2011 by FreiburgandCambridge
It makes you wonder how many more bombs are lying in the Rhine waiting to go off.

A 1.8 tonne WWII bomb going off near Fessenheim would be an interesting one to deal with!
16:14 December 4, 2011 by NormB
My prayers go out for a successful defusing of this bomb and the safety of all involved. I once saw estimates, based on numbers of bombs dropped, predicted failure rates (think Toyota or Ford motor company recalls), of there being tens of thousands of dud rounds in Germany alone. They'll be turning up centuries from now.
03:23 December 5, 2011 by wood artist
Congratulations to the crew that did this work. It's never easy, even in the best of circumstances.

Now, I'm puzzled by the picture. I sure hope that doesn't reflect a whole bunch of people watching while the work is done. If either had gone off, everybody in the picture would be long gone. Hopefully the picture was taken AFTER the work was done.

wa
10:43 December 5, 2011 by The-ex-pat
So dangerous that half the city had to be evacuated, but not so dangerous that 20 plus people could stand around, hands in pockets watching. How much help did the emergency services standing in the background think they could administer to the two guys working on the bomb if it went BANG.....................lol
23:55 December 5, 2011 by franconia
So, you think they let people watch? Are you from the US?
04:52 December 6, 2011 by SchafEK
GREAT JOB well done!! Glad the evacuation was without any challenges. Looks like the photo was taken after bombs were diffused.

Use common sense....Germany has the most stringent safety and environmental laws and procedures. US ignorance is obvious...
04:34 December 7, 2011 by heyheyhey
I agree that those from the US are very ignorant about Germany.

However, it is well known the those in the US are more into the "thrill" of doing something dangerous than using common sense. In the US people would stand around a bomb such as this, because they seek thrills and are invincible.

Go away American fools!
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