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An 800-metre area around the bomb find will need to be evacuated by 9am on Friday morning, police announced.
Police have scheduled deactivation of the bomb to begin at 11:30am. “But it can also be 12:00. That depends on how quickly the evacuation is completed,” a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Around 10,000 people will be affected due to the necessary evacuation.
The exclusion zone covers the train station, an army hospital, the economy ministry, an art gallery and a museum as well as part of the BND intelligence service's new headquarters.
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The Hauptbahnhof – a transport hub that on a normal day is used by 300,000 passengers – will be completely closed down during the disposal operation, affecting regional and long-distance routes. Trains will run straight through the central railway station without stopping from 0800 GMT, and all rail traffic there will cease from 0930 GMT, said operator Deutsche Bahn.
“We have not yet had a comparable situation to this extent,” said Friedemann Keßler, Head of the Eastern Regional Division at Deutsche Bahn.
Local train, tram and bus services will also face disruption.
S-Bahn lines S3, S7 and S9 coming from the east will operate to Friedrichstrasse, whereas trains coming from the west will go to Tiergarten (S3 or S9) or Charlottenburg (S7).
The tram lines M5, M8 and M10 towards the main station will be running only to the Naturkundemuseum. Connections to Berlin’s Tegel airport will also be affected, but riders can take the TXL bus, which will drive around closed off streets.
The only line which will not run at all during the operation is the U55 between the Hauptbahnhof and Brandenburger Tor.
“Almost all lines will be running. Buses will circumnavigate the affected area and trams like the M5 and M8 can turn around and avoid the area,” Petra Reetz, a spokesperson at Berlin Transport Authority (BVG) told Tagesspiegel. “However, we ask all passengers to allow more time.
“Cars will also need to drive around the affected area, likely resulting in massive traffic jams,” reported the Tagesspiegel.
“The operation will be big and it will be difficult,” a police spokesperson said.
Thousands of residents who live within the evacuation area will need to leave their homes.
The fire brigade in Berlin has tweeted a map showing the area which will need to be cleared.
Den bisher festgelegten Sperrkreis haben wir auf einer virtuellen Karte hinterlegt. So können Sie prüfen, ob Sie am Freitag betroffen sind.https://t.co/dQGtkHreqy@PolizeiBerlin_E@bpol_b @VIZ_Berlin
— Berliner Feuerwehr (@Berliner_Fw) April 18, 2018
Two shelters will be set up for those who need accommodation, the police announced.
A few sections of a major Berlin hospital, the Charite, will also have to be cleared as it is located in the vicinity of the main station. The buildings affected include the northwest area of the Campus Charite in central Mitte, some buildings along Invalidenstrasse and a few outpatient and administration areas.
Berlin’s Social Welfare Court will also temporarily shut down, affecting 200 judges and 140 additional employees. “We will have to close down because an orderly court operation is not possible,” spokesperson Marcus Howe told the Tagesspiegel on Thursday.
With regards to air traffic, some landings at the Tegel Airport will also be brought to a halt during the deactivation. “Last time (there was a bomb deactivation) the delay was half an hour,” said Tegel spokesperson Daniel Tolksdorf. “Therefore we expect a similar schedule this time around.”
It was unclear how long the bomb disposal squad would take to disable the bomb. “It depends on how long the evacuation takes and of course the condition of the bomb,” police spokesman Martin Halweg told Tagesspiegel.
The bomb was discovered several days ago, weighs around 500 kilograms* and according to the Berlin police, is likely of British origin.
*An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the bomb weighed 1,500 kilograms.