News World World War II bomb defused in Germany, sparks mass evacuation

World War II bomb defused in Germany, sparks mass evacuation

Around 54,000 people were evacuated while the disposal crew defused the bomb. Photo: Getty.
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Explosives experts have defused a large World War II aerial bomb in the southern German city of Augsburg, clearing the way for thousands of evacuated residents to return to their Christmas celebrations at home.

City police said they had “good news at Christmas” just before 7pm (local time) on Christmas Day.

They had earlier been unable to say how long residents would have to stay away.

Some 32,000 households with 54,000 residents in the city’s historic central district were forced to leave by 10am Christmas morning so experts could handle the bomb.

They had to clean seven decades of muck off the bomb so they could find and disable its three detonators.

World War II bomb defused in Augsburg
People wait in a fair hall during the mass evacuation on Christmas Day. Photo: Getty.

The munition’s large size — 1.6 tonnes — suggested it was a so-called blockbuster of the type dropped by British forces, with the aim of blowing surrounding buildings apart so that accompanying incendiary bombs could start fires more easily.

The bomb was uncovered last week during construction work in the city’s historic central district.

Police said Christmas Day was the best time to defuse it because there was less traffic and it was more likely that people could stay with relatives.

Police rang doorbells and used vans with loudspeakers to urge procrastinators to leave ahead of the deadline.

Schools and sports facilities were opened as shelters but most people appeared to have left on Christmas Eve.

Finding World War II bombs is not unusual in Germany.

Much of Augsburg’s historic centre was destroyed on February 25 and 26, 1944, when hundreds of British and US bombers attacked the city.

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