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Bomb “blockbuster” in Frankfurt: more than 60,000 inhabitants evacuated

Ⓒ dpa/AFP – Andreas Arnold – | A police car is stationed near the place where an enormous British bomb dating from the Second World War must be defused on 2 September 2017 in Frankfurt

The city of Frankfurt on Sunday evacuated more than 60,000 inhabitants to allow the defusing of a huge British bomb from the Second World War, the largest operation of its kind in Germany since 1945.

“The area will have to be completely emptied of its residents” to allow neutralize the 1.8 tonne machine, warned an official of the municipality of the German financial capital Markus Frank.

The bomb of the Royal Air Force has already been nicknamed “Blockbuster” by some Frankfurt, because of its explosive charge, weighing alone 1.4 tons, which would be enough to shave a block and buildings.

As of Saturday, patients from two hospitals and newborns of the largest maternity ward in the region, the Bürgerhospital, were transferred to other institutions.

“The solidarity of the surrounding maternities was fantastic, all of them immediately offered their support,” said one of the Bürgerhospital’s physicians Steffen Kunzmann.

“In hospital clinics, the evacuation has almost finished, but for retirement homes it will last longer, said Saturday a spokesman for the city’s firefighters.

The bomb was discovered at the beginning of the week on a construction site in the perimeter of the university of the city, a stone’s throw from the banking district and the city center.

To enable demining, more than 60,000 inhabitants have to leave their homes, or nearly 10% of the total population of the metropolis.

Most will do between 06:00 (0400 GMT) and 0800 (0600 GMT).

– Hundreds of police officers –

Police began deploying in the neighborhood as early as Saturday as a precaution to avoid burglaries or theft in dwellings or shops already abandoned.

On Sunday, it will mobilize several hundred agents to ensure until mid-day that the area is deserted.

The demining operation itself will take place in the afternoon. The inhabitants should therefore not be able to return home until evening. Several large halls were put at their disposal during the day by the city.

The evacuation concerns a 1.5 km perimeter around the place of discovery of the bomb.

As a result of intensive Allied bombardments of the Second World War, demining services must regularly neutralize in Germany bombs and shells of the time, discovered during construction sites, or in forests, fields and sometimes even in gardens .

On Saturday, on the eve of the Frankfurt operation, 21,000 people were evacuated to Koblenz, western Germany, to defuse a 500-kilogram bomb from the Second World War.

Up to now, the largest evacuation due to such demining took place on 25 December 2016, when 54,000 people had to leave their homes in Augsburg, in the south of the country.

Last May, 50,000 people were also evacuated to Hanover in the north during the neutralization of three British bombs.

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