Massive wartime bomb to be defused near German gold reserves
Frankfurt officials say over 60,000 residents to be evacuated to deal with 1.8 tonne device
A policeman near a blue tent covering a British second World War bomb found during construction works in Frankfurt, Germany. The disposal of the bomb planned for this Sunday requires the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. Photograph: Boris Roessler/AFP/Getty Images
Police secure the area around where a second World War bomb was found during construction works in Frankfurt, Germany. Photograph: Armando Babani/EPA
Frankfurt’s city centre, an area including police headquarters, two hospitals, transport systems and Germany’s central bank storing $70 billion (€58.8 billion) in gold reserves will be evacuated on Sunday to allow the defusing of a 1.8 tonne second World War bomb.
A spokesman for the German Bundesbank said “the usual security arrangements” would remain in place while experts worked to disarm the bomb, dropped by the British air force and uncovered during excavation of a building site.
The Bundesbank headquarters, less than 600 metres from the location of the bomb, stores 1,710 tonnes of gold underground, around half the country’s reserves.
Damaged on impact
“We have never defused a bomb of this size,” bomb disposal expert Rene Bennert told Reuters, adding it had been damaged on impact when it was dropped between 1943 and 1945.
Airspace for 1.5km around the bomb site will also be closed.
Frankfurt city officials said more than 60,000 residents would be evacuated for at least 12 hours. The evacuation area would also include 20 retirement homes, the Opera house and the diplomatic quarter.
Bomb disposal experts will make use of a “Rocket Wrench” to try to unscrew the fuses attached to the HC 4,000 bomb. If that fails, a water jet will be used to cut the fuses away from the bomb, Mr Bennert told Reuters.
The most dangerous part of the exercise will be applying the wrench, Mr Bennert said.
Roads and transport systems, including the underground, will be closed during the work and for at least two hours after the bomb is defused, to allow patients to be transported back to hospitals without traffic.
It is not unusual for unexploded bombs from second World War air raids to be found in German cities, but rarely are they so large and in such a sensitive position.