WWII bomb forces evacuation, travel disruption in Cologne

For the second time in two days, the discovery of a World War II bomb has forced an evacuation in Germany.

WWII bomb forces evacuation, travel disruption in Cologne
A 'Fünf-Zentner-Bombe' resembling the one found in Cologne. Image: DPA

Discovered on Wednesday afternoon in Cologne-Zollstock in the city’s south, the bomb forced an evacuation of a 500-metre radius. Around 2,500 have had to leave their homes, while disruptions are also expected in peak hour afternoon and evening traffic. 

Roadblocks have already been established in the area, although the military ring road and the Zollstock/Sülz belt road which surround the city are expected to remain open. 

The bomb, which is English in origin and operating on a long-term detonator, is said to weigh between 200 and 400 kilograms. 

The discovery has forced road closures in the area and will disrupt local and long-distance train services. The train from Cologne to Bonn – a popular afternoon route – has been closed for the evening. 

A spokesperson for Deutsche Bahn told the Rheinische Post that it was unclear how long the train suspension would last. 

It was the second World War II bomb German authorities were forced to deal with on Wednesday, after an early morning detonation forced another evacuation in the city of Regensburg in Bavaria. 

As reported by The Local, after 4,500 were evacuated, the bomb was detonated successfully by a specialized robot shortly after 4:40am.

Despite several decades passing since the end of the conflict, World War II bombs are frequently discovered all across Germany. 

So far in 2019 bomb discoveries have forced evacuations in Frankfurt, Rostock, Essen and Nuremberg. 

The largest post-war evacuation took place in September 2017, when more than 60,000 people were affected by the discovery of a bomb which weighed several tonnes on the Frankfurt University campus. 

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WWII bomb found in Frankfurt safely detonated after mass evacuation

A massive World War II bomb found in Germany's financial capital Frankfurt was safely detonated in the early hours of Thursday, the city's fire service said, allowing tens of thousands of evacuated residents to return to their homes.

WWII bomb found in Frankfurt safely detonated after mass evacuation
Experts stand on mountains of sand, which were put in place to soften the force of the explosion of the WWII bomb in Frankfurt's Nordend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The 500-kilogram unexploded bomb was unearthed during construction work on Wednesday in the densely populated Nordend area of the city, a location firefighters said made it a “particular challenge” to remove.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported the ordnance had been discovered right next to a children’s playground at a depth of about two metres (6.5 feet).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

Its report said the controlled blast, which happened just after midnight, “sounded like thunder rumbling” and left a hole three metres deep and ten metres wide.

Firefighters said that they had covered the bomb with 40 truckloads of sand before detonating it, in order to minimise damage to the surrounding buildings.

Around 25,000 people had been asked to evacuate the area, including the occupants of a nearby community hospital’s neonatal ward.

Among residents who took shelter at a skating rink was 29-year-old Tobias, carrying his pet cat in a cage.

He said he had heard the news over a police loudspeaker and been ordered to leave his home immediately, causing a “bit of stress”.

Barbara, 77, told AFP the news was “a bit of a shock, we don’t expect that”.

However, building works in Germany regularly unearth unexploded World War II ordnance, 76 years after the conflict’s end.

Seven bombs were defused in 2020 on land near Berlin where Tesla plans to build its first factory in Europe for electric cars.  

READ ALSO: WWII bomb in Frankfurt triggers 30m high water fountain

Other bombs were also discovered last year in Frankfurt, Cologne, and Dortmund.

In Frankfurt, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in 2017 led to the removal of 65,000 people, the biggest such evacuation in Europe since 1945.