WWII bomb found in central Cologne made safe after evacuation

German experts defused a World War II bomb in Cologne on Tuesday that had forced the evacuation of thousands of office workers and disrupted rail and ship traffic.

WWII bomb found in central Cologne made safe after evacuation
Stefan Höreth of the bomb disposal unit next to the WWII bomb. Photo: DPA

The 500-kilogramme (1,100-pound) US bomb – dropped during a heavy bombardment of the western German city – “no longer poses a danger”, the city said in a statement shortly before midday.

Construction workers found the bomb on the right bank of the Rhine river on Monday evening, prompting the evacuation of nearby offices including those of broadcaster RTL and the Cologne Opera.

Very few people live in the area, which is primarily a business district.

“The roughly 10,000 employees of the affected companies and the 15 residents may return to their buildings,” said the city's statement.

The nearby Hohenzollern rail and pedestrian bridge, which leads to Cologne's famous Dom cathedral and central train station on the opposite bank, was closed during the defusing efforts, severely disrupting rail traffic.

READ ALSO: Discovery of US WWII bomb in Cologne disrupts train services

After the bomb was deactivated in an operation that took less than an hour, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced that the bridge had reopened, as had Cologne's smaller Messe/Deutz station.

The rail firm warned passengers to expect some knock-on effects from the earlier delays and cancellations.

The airspace above the exclusion zone was also reopened and river traffic was allowed to resume after a short interruption in one of the world's busiest waterways.

Separately, Berlin police announced that another unexploded WWII bomb had been unearthed close to the capital's city hall during construction works.

The 250 kg ordonnance is due to be defused later Tuesday, said police.

World War II bombs are regularly unearthed in Germany.

Earlier this month, some 14,000 people had to leave their homes in Dortmund after two unexploded bombs were found in the city centre.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?

Several political parties in Germany have said they want to bring back sleeper trains in order to meet carbon emissions targets.

Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?
A sleeper train in Austria. Photo: dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

The Green party have said that they want to put state subsidies into night trains that will connect Germany with cities as far flung as St Petersburg in the north and Lisbon in the south.

According to the environmentalist party’s plans, 40 night rail lines could connect 200 destinations across the continent including islands like Mallorca, which would be linked in by train and ferry.

The Greens want the EU to buy a fleet of sleeper trains that could travel at speeds of between 200 km/h and 250 km/h.

The CDU have also announced plans to rebuild the country’s sleeper train services.

Deutsche Bahn stopped its last sleeper service in 2016 citing the high costs involved in maintaining its fleet that was not recuperated through ticket sales.

Earlier this year the state owned company said it had “no plans” to purchase new sleeper wagons.