21 Apr 2018

Berlin police defuse WWII bomb after mass evacuation

7:28 am on 21 April 2018

German police have defused a World War II bomb in central Berlin, after some 10,000 people were evacuated.

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About 10,000 people had to be evacuated in central Berlin before the 500kg bomb could be defused. Photo: AFP

"A short bang - there was a controlled explosion of the detonator away from the bomb," the police said.

The British bomb has been removed, the main railway station has reopened and traffic is getting back to normal.

The evacuation zone included homes, government ministries, hospitals and museums. The disruption lasted from 9am to 1.30pm local time.

During that period trains were unable to stop at the main railway station and vehicles were diverted away from the zone. The police cordon has now been lifted.

"Everything went smoothly without complications, and by the book," said police explosives expert Engin Laumer after the 500kg bomb had been defused.

It was found last Wednesday during construction work in Heidestrasse.

Buildings were cleared in an 800m radius around the site. Police went door to door to check the area was empty of people before their specialist team began defusing the bomb.

Berlin's famous Charité university hospital and a military hospital were partly shut down.

Police tweeted a photo of their bomb disposal team poised to make it safe.

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Photo: Supplied / Twitter

Thousands of unexploded bombs from the 1939-45 war are found every year. Berlin was reduced to ruins in 1945 and about 3000 unexploded bombs are believed to be still lying buried in the city.

In September about 65,000 people were evacuated in Frankfurt because of an unexploded bomb.

Flights to and from Tegel airport - about 7km away - were not affected by the evacuation.

Tegel, which is Berlin's busiest airport, was briefly closed last August after the discovery of a Soviet World War II bomb.

Other WWII bombs discovered in Germany

  • May 2017: 50,000 people were evacuated from Hannover while three British-made bombs were defused
  • December 2016: More than 50,000 evacuated in Augsburg over 1.8-tonne British explosive
  • May 2015: 20,000 people in Cologne forced to leave their homes after a one-tonne bomb was discovered
  • January 2012: A construction worker was killed when his digger hit an unexploded bomb in Euskirchen
  • December 2011: 45,000 people were evacuated from Koblenz - half the total population - after two bombs were found in the riverbed of the Rhine
  • June 2010: Three members of a bomb disposal squad were killed in Goettingen during an operation to defuse a bomb found on a building site

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