Authorities evacuated around 13,000 residents from the German city of Dusseldorf after they found a World War II-era bomb, on Monday night (August 7), reported German news outlet Deutsche Welle (DW).
According to reports, authorities planned to defuse the 500kg United States-made bomb overnight after they discovered it during work in the area near the city zoo, the fire brigade said. All residents within 500 metres were asked to evacuate the area on Monday evening. Some carried their pets with them as they temporarily left their homes. In the meantime, officials arranged two rooms at local schools for affected residents. The discovery of the bomb affected long-distance trains, while also halting several local bus and tram lines.
Apparently, more than 70 years since World War II ended, there are still thousands of unexploded bombs in Germany. Between 1940 and 1945, U.S. and British air forces dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe, half of that amount on Germany. When the Nazi government surrendered in May 1945, it had crippled the industrial infrastructure of the Third Reich, rendering railheads, arms factories, and oil refineries ineffective, and reducing dozens of cities across Germany to moonscapes of cinder and ash.
Under Allied occupation, reconstruction began almost immediately. Yet as many as 10 per cent of the bombs dropped by Allied aircraft had failed to explode, and as East and West Germany rose from the ruins of the Reich, thousands of tons of unexploded bombs remained under them. The responsibility for defusing these bombs in both the East and West—along with removing the innumerable hand grenades, bullets and mortar and artillery shells left behind at the end of the war—fell to police bomb-disposal technicians and firefighters, the Kampfmittelbeseitigungsdienst, or KMBD.
In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-ton bomb in Frankfurt forced the evacuation of 65,000 people. In December 2021, a Second World War bomb exploded at a construction site near Munich station, injuring four people and disrupting rail traffic. Authorities uncover more than 2,000 tons of unexploded munitions on German soil every year. Before any construction project begins in Germany, from the extension of a home to track-laying by the national railroad authority, the ground must be certified as cleared of unexploded ordnance.