Thousands evacuated in Frankfurt as officials work to defuse WW2 bomb

German authorities prepare to dispose of WW2 bomb

Authorities in recent days have evacuated residents of nursing homes and hospital patients from the area ahead of today's planned disposal efforts.

A smaller bomb was disposed of in the city of Koblenz, 110km west of Frankfurt, where 22,000 residents were moved as a precaution before specialists defused the 500 kilogram bomb.

Authorities cleared almost 60,000 people from a 1.5 kilometer (0.57 square mile) area in the Westend district, warning that the 1.8 metric ton (4,000-pound) bomb could flatten an entire block if it explodes.

Police early on Sunday morning cordoned off the 1.5 km evacuation area as residents carrying luggage vacated the danger zone.

The largest evacuation of people since 1945 will happen in Frankfurt.

"At 6:30 p.m. local time, the Frankfurt police posted on Twitter "[The bomb] has been successfully defused". Bomb technicians had been scheduled to begin work shortly after noon, but the fire department said there were delays as some people refused to leave.

Every year in Germany more than 2,000 tonnes of munitions and live bombs are discovered, some underneath existing buildings.

The high capacity bomb, also dubbed a Blockbuster, was one of thousands dropped over Germany by the Royal Air Force during the final years of World War II to cripple the Nazi war machine and demoralize the German population.

Roads and transport systems, including parts of the underground, were closed during the work and for at least two hours after the bomb was defused, to allow patients to be transported back to hospitals.

Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb.

Air traffic from Frankfurt airport could also be affected if there is an easterly wind on Sunday.

In a show of public spirit, museums are opening their doors for free to provide evacuees with a place to spend the day. Police used a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment to check that each street had been cleared in the potential blast zone.

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