Life has come to a standstill in the western German city of Koblenz, where 45,000 people — nearly half of the city´s population — have been evacuated after the discovery of several dangerous World War II bombs.
“It´s the largest German evacuation since the end of the war,” fire brigade spokesman Ronald Eppelsheim said Sunday.
For 65 years, the Rhine River hid three bombs that were dropped by American and British warplanes in the last years of the war. When water levels dropped to record lows last week, the bombs were finally found.
“While time passed by, and Koblenz was rebuild(ing), the bombs got even more dangerous”, bomb-disposal squad member Jurgen Wagner said Sunday.
The largest of the explosives is a 1.8-ton British air bomb that has the potential to destroy the city´s center, according to the fire brigade.
But the focus of attention isn’t on the largest bomb — it’s on the much smaller, 125-kilogram (275-pound) American high-explosive bomb. “This one has been transformed on impact of the earth. We might have some serious problems deactivating the detonator,” Wagner said.
But the 45,000 evacuated are waiting for his colleagues to finish their work.
Last week, hundreds of volunteers started evacuating two hospitals and seven homes for senior citizens. A prison and numerous hotels are also affected by the shutdown.
By mid-Sunday morning, authorities declared the center of Koblenz a “forbidden area.” About 1,000 authorities were searching the town to make sure any left behind leave.
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Article courtesy cnn.com