Frankfurt returns to normal after WWII bomb defused

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) –


Thousands of residents in German city Frankfurt were free to return to their homes Sunday afternoon after authorities reported that an unexploded World War II bomb found close to the European Central Bank headquarters had been defused.

"We did it! The World War II bomb in the Ostend neighbourhood has been defused by the ordnance disposal team. Roadblocks and evacuation zones have been lifted," the city fire service tweeted.

As well as the massive glass-shelled ECB skyscraper, residential areas home to some 16,000 people within a roughly one-kilometre (0.6-mile) radius of the 500-kilogramme (1,100 pound) bomb were evacuated.

Police combed the area early in the morning for stay-behinds, after loudspeaker trucks circulated urging the inhabitants to leave.

"It's actually nice to meet the people of the area, because when you live in apartments you don't always know everybody," evacuee Carmel McKiernan told AFP at a welcome centre set up in the Frankfurt zoo, where many older and less mobile people were sheltering from the rain.

"It was well organised, I think, even if these loud announcements in the streets were a bit militaristic," said fellow evacuee Andreas Mueller.

"We're going to go for a nice walk with the kids, go to the park, thank God it's not too hot today," said William, 35, outside a nearby cafe with his family.

The US fragmentation bomb with two detonators was found on June 25 during construction work in the centre of Germany's banking capital.

The ordnance clearance service determined that it posed no immediate danger and scheduled the operation to defuse it on Sunday.

The evacuation zone stretched across both banks of the Main river, forcing the suspension of several train services on top of the general lockdown.

Authorities were keen 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 tonnes of explosives.

This time around, all those affected were given free entry for the day to the city's museums -- a courtesy also to be extended to the emergency personnel who received vouchers to visit on other days.

Nearly 75 years after the end of the Second World War, Germany is still littered with bombs and other unexploded ordnance.

Experts say at least 10 percent 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.

And earlier this month, a 100-kilogramme US bomb was defused near Alexanderplatz in central Berlin after the evacuation of around 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.