Experts Defuse World War II Bomb in German City of Cologne

January 21, 2020 Updated: January 21, 2020
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Explosives experts on Tuesday successfully defused an unexploded American bomb from World War II in the western German city of Cologne, authorities said.

The 1,100-pound bomb was found Monday evening during construction near the Rhine River in the center of the city. A TV station and the opera house had to be evacuated during the defusing operation. Shipping on the river and air traffic overhead were also interrupted before the defusing operation got underway.

Officials closed down a bridge across the Rhine that takes most trains to Cologne’s main train station, one of Germany’s major rail hubs. The suspension of traffic in Cologne led to delays in train services across all of Germany.

German disposal experts also successfully defused two World War II bombs discovered in the western German city of Dortmund on  Jan. 13. Around 14,000 residents were evacuated from their homes prior to the operation.

The bombs were 550 pounds and were successfully deactivated on Sunday. The incident took place after officials shut down the city’s main train station and ordered thousands of people to leave their homes before they began the bomb removal operation, Deutsche Welle reported.

As part of the preparation for the bomb removal, the authorities of Dortmund, which is Germany’s ninth-largest city, evacuated residents from the surrounding areas and patients from two hospitals.

The bombs, which were American and British, are only a few of the many detected and unexploded bombs discovered in Germany since the end of the war dating back to 1945, according to AP.  This scenario has been frequently seen throughout the country and has sometimes led to mass evacuations due to safety concerns.

Some 15,000 people were evacuated in the German city of Hanover last September, after a 550 pound bomb was discovered and disarmed successfully, according to The Local.

Moreover, in one of the largest bomb disposal operations, around 60,000 people in Frankfurt were forced to evacuate their homes after a 1.4-tonne bomb was discovered and detonated in 2017. The huge bomb with a high explosive capacity was used during World War II by Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The Local reported during the Christmas holiday in 2016 that the German city of Augsburg had faced the biggest evacuation of an unexploded bomb since the end of the war, with 54,000 people moved from their homes. In this case, the evacuation took place on Christmas Eve and a 3.8-tonne British bomb was made safe.

Almost 75 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are frequently found in Germany. Disposing of them sometimes entails large-scale evacuations as a precaution.

Julia Mira contributed to this report.