54,000 Germans start leaving home Christmas morning for WWII bomb defuse
FRANKFURT – The Associated PressMore than 54,000 people in the southern German city of Augsburg started to be evacuated from their homes Christmas morning while authorities defuse a giant 1.8-ton aerial bomb from World War II.
The city’s medieval cathedral and City Hall are in the area that was sealed off.
Police said Dec. 24 that no one would be allowed into the surrounding streets after about 8:00 a.m. Dec. 25 and everyone must be out by 10:00 a.m.
Police say it was impossible to say exactly how long it would take to make the bomb safe.
Schools were opened for people who could not stay with relatives or friends. Police said that people could bring their pets to shelters and that public transportation would be free Christmas morning.
In addition to the website, the city was using Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to keep citizens informed about the situation. Updates were being distributed to radio and televisions stations, and loudspeaker announcements were used.
Finding bombs from the war is not unusual in Germany. This evacuation, however, is even bigger than the 45,000 people temporarily evacuated to remove a bomb in Koblenz in 2011.
Large parts of Augsburg were destroyed on Feb. 25-26, 1944, when the city was attacked by hundreds of British and U.S. bombers.