WWII bomb successfully defused in Germany after 11 hours
BERLINAn operation to defuse an unexploded British bomb from World War Two in Germany’s Augsburg, where 54,000 people were forced out of their homes, was ended in success after 11 hours of work.
The huge operation to defuse a British bomb on Dec. 25 in Germany’s southern city of Augsburg took 11 hours, involved 900 police officers and it ended successfully around 6:00 p.m. GMT, local authorities announced, according to AFP.
A total of 54,000 people were forced out of their homes in Germany on Christmas Day which became to be the country’s biggest such evacuation since the end of hostilities.
The 1.8-tonne explosive was found on Dec. 20 during work at a construction site in the Bavarian city, but authorities waited until Dec. 25 to coordinate the logistics necessary to make it safe.
More than 70 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are regularly found buried on German land, legacies of the intense bombing campaigns by the Allied forces against Nazi Germany.
Augsburg, the third-largest city in Bavaria, was targeted several times during the war.
A 1,500-metre exclusion zone was created for the operation in case the bomb exploded while engineers were trying to deactivate it and sandbags were set up all around.
Two experts defused the explosive, which was described as a “mega bomb” according to police spokesman Manfred Gottschalk cited by DPA news agency.
Police checked house by house to ensure they were clear of residents before giving the go ahead.
The effort to defuse the bomb only started around 2:00 p.m. GMT due to a larger than expected number of bedridden or disabled people that had to be removed from the area, said Augsburg mayor Kurt Gribl.
About 100 buses and trams were deployed for the evacuation.
He had earlier urged “everyone concerned to leave the area, if possible by themselves,” in a video message posted on the city’s Twitter account.
Gribi also called for “each person to verify that their relatives, parents and friends have found places to stay outside the [security] zone... Look out for one another.”
But pictures later showed the bomb disposal team calmly standing around the cylinder shaped bomb, around two meters long, smiling after their task had ended.
Citizens were then given the all clear to return to their homes.
Emergency shelters had been set up in schools and gymnasiums to handle those displaced, especially the elderly who had been unable to find accommodation at relatives or friends.