Rene Bennert from the bomb disposal team poses next to a defused WW2 bomb fixed on a truck on in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, July 7 2019. Picture: BORIS ROESSLER/DPA/AFP
Rene Bennert from the bomb disposal team poses next to a defused WW2 bomb fixed on a truck on in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, July 7 2019. Picture: BORIS ROESSLER/DPA/AFP

Frankfurt —Thousands of residents in Frankfurt were evacuated on Sunday to allow German explosives experts to defuse a large unexploded World War 2 bomb found close to the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters.

The ECB building has been evacuated along with residential areas that are home to 16,000 people within a 1km radius of the 500km bomb.

A bank spokeswoman said that “we have made arrangements for our employees to be able to work from other locations if necessary”, reported the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

The US fragmentation bomb with two detonators was found on June 25 during construction work in the centre of Germany’s banking capital Frankfurt. The ordnance clearance service determined that it spelled no immediate danger and scheduled the defusal operation for Sunday.

The evacuation zone stretches across both banks of the Main River and will force the suspension of several train services. No-one will be allowed inside the area until the end of the operation.

Authorities want to avoid delays that marred an even bigger evacuation in September 2017 when 60,000 people had to leave their homes, hotel rooms and hospital wards following the discovery of a monster bomb filled with 1.4 tons of explosives.

This time, all those affected will be given free entry for the day to the city’s museums, a courtesy also to be extended to the emergency personnel who will receive vouchers to visit on other days.

Littered with bombs

Nearly 75 years after the end of World War 2, Germany is still littered with bombs and other unexploded ordnance. Experts say at least 10% of the millions of bombs dropped on Germany during the conflict did not explode.

A week ago a buried bomb exploded in a field in western Germany, leaving a huge crater but causing no injuries. Earlier in June, a 100kg US bomb was defused near central Berlin’s Alexanderplatz after the evacuation of 3,000 people.

Around 2,000 dud bombs are believed to remain buried in Frankfurt which was heavily bombed by American and British forces in the last years of the war.

AFP