Frankfurt Defuses Massive WWII Bomb After Evacuating 60,000

September 3, 2017 Updated: September 3, 2017

FRANKFURT—German explosives experts defused a massive World War Two bomb in the financial capital of Frankfurt on Sunday after tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes.

 
Explosives experts defused a massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Explosives experts defused a massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The compulsory evacuation of 60,000 people was Germany’s biggest such maneuver since the war, with more than a thousand emergency service workers helping to clear the area around the bomb, which was discovered on a building site last week.

The evacuation area included two hospitals, care homes, the Opera House and Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, where $70 billion in gold reserves are stored underground. Police maintained security at the building.

The all-day effort took longer than planned but officials expressed relief that residents would start returning home before sundown and that the operation wouldn’t disrupt business on Monday.

Evacuated people rest at a fair hall as 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski)
Evacuated people rest at a fair hall as 60,000 people in Germany’s financial capital evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski)

 

A young man carries his pillow and a sleeping bag as some 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
A young man carries his pillow and a sleeping bag as some 60,000 people in Germany’s financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The work by bomb technicians started later than scheduled because some residents refused to leave the evacuation area despite fire chiefs warning that an uncontrolled explosion would be big enough to flatten a city block. Police said they took stragglers into custody to secure the area.

More than 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions are discovered each year in Germany, more than 70 years after the end of the war.

British and American warplanes pummeled the country with 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that killed 600,000 people. Officials estimate that 15 percent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six meters (20 feet) deep.

Bomb disposal expert Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler speak next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Bomb disposal expert Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler speak next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

 

Bomb disposal experts Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler pose next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Bomb disposal experts Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler pose next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Cordons

Residents were instructed to leave their homes by 8 a.m. local time, and more than a thousand emergency service workers helped to clear the area. Police set up cordons at 1 mile radius around the device.

Many residents left town. Others spent time in cafes on the edge of the evacuation zone. Museums were free, and many hotels offered discounts. The city set up a temporary shelter at Frankfurt’s trade fair site, serving bananas and beverages.

A woman carries her belongings walking past a police officer as some 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
A woman carries her belongings walking past a police officer as some 60,000 people in Germany’s financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

 

Police officers get their instructions as 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Police officers get their instructions as 60,000 people in Germany’s financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

 

Sister Sigrid (3rdR) talks to firefighters and police officers as she observes the evacuation of her nursery home for homeless people as 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Sister Sigrid (3rdR) talks to firefighters and police officers as she observes the evacuation of her nursery home for homeless people as 60,000 people in Germany’s financial capital are about to evacuate the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bomb found during renovations on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The device was found last week in the city’s leafy Westend neighborhood, home to many wealthy bankers.

Premature babies and intensive care patients had to be evacuated along with everyone else from two hospitals and rescue workers helped about 500 elderly people leave residences and care homes.

A tent covers the area around an unexploded British World War Two bomb which was found during renovation work on the university's campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 1, 2017. (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski)
A tent covers the area around an unexploded British World War Two bomb which was found during renovation work on the university’s campus in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 1, 2017. (REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski)

Bomb disposal experts used a special system to try and unscrew the fuses attached to the HC 4,000 bomb from a safe distance. If that had failed, a water jet would have been used to cut the fuses.

The bomb was dropped by Britain’s Royal Air Force during the 1939-45 war, city officials said.

In July, a kindergarten was evacuated after teachers discovered an unexploded World War Two bomb on a shelf among some toys.

Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 1,000 lb bomb.

By Tom Sims

Bomb disposal experts Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler speak next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017.  (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Bomb disposal experts Rene Bennert and Dieter Schweizler speak next to defused massive World War Two bomb after tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Frankfurt, Germany on Sept. 3, 2017. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)