Disposal experts remove WWII bombs in central German city

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Rescue service employees in Goettingen, Germany, evacuate an elderly resident and his two cats before bomb disposal experts find and defuse four suspected World War II bombs from the city centre. Photo: DPA
Rescue service employees in Goettingen, Germany, evacuate an elderly resident and his two cats before bomb disposal experts find and defuse four suspected World War II bombs from the city centre. Photo: DPA

dpa/GNA – After a mass evacuation in the German city of Goettingen, disposal experts finished defusing four World War II bombs in the city centre early Sunday.

The evacuation of more than 8,000 people was completed by late Saturday morning, but the disposal operation lasted the entire day.

The bombs were found to be 10-ton bombs with long-life fuses dropped by the US military.

The explosive ordnance disposal service successfully finished the controlled detonation of the final bomb around 1 am on Sunday.

Around two hours later, after teams checked the area for damage, most of the residents received the all-clear to return home.

But in two buildings window panes were destroyed by the pressure wave from the explosion, which meant residents could not immediately go home.

Containers filled with water sacks were set up around the bomb sites to deflect the pressure waves. An danger zone with a radius of 1 kilometre was set up around the site.

With a few exceptions, the evacuation went according to plan, said Rainer Nolte, head of the Goettingen police department.

The work had earlier been delayed twice because people remained in the restricted area after the evacuation order.

Police escorted two of them out of the danger zone.

The authorities set up evacuation centres for those who couldn’t stay with friends. About 260 people were accommodated there.

Coronavirus regulations were temporarily suspended due to the situation.

The city used police drones as part of its efforts to check whether any individuals were still in the restricted area, as well as to check for damage after the bombs were defused.

Goettingen’s central station, which is on a major north-south rail axis, was shut down and traffic diverted. Rail traffic was back to normal by Sunday morning, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said.

According to the city, about 1,800 people were working in shifts to organize the evacuation and defuse the bombs.

It is not uncommon for wartime ordnance to be discovered during construction work in Germany.

Deactivating the explosive devices can be dangerous, and has on occasion led to injuries and fatalities.

In June 2010, three members of a bomb disposal team were killed and six people wounded when a World War II bomb exploded in Goettingen during attempts to disarm the device.

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