90,000 Evacuated in Two German Cities to Defuse WWII-era Bombs

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Numerous ambulances wait outside the Buerger hospital, which is to be evacuated due to a bomb disposal in Frankfurt, Germany, September 2, 2017.
Numerous ambulances wait outside the Buerger hospital, which is to be evacuated due to a bomb disposal in Frankfurt, Germany, September 2, 2017.Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/AP

Some 90,000 people had to leave their homes in the German city of Koblenz and the country's banking capital Frankfurt this weekend due to unexploded World War II-era bombs.

The ongoing evacuation of some 70,000 people in Frankfurt on Saturday was the largest operation of its kind in post-war Germany.

On Sunday, a 1.8-ton HC 4000 bomb packed with 1,300 kilograms of explosives will be defused in the densely populated upmarket Westend neighborhood in Frankfurt. The "blockbuster" bomb was dropped by Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots during World War II.

Patients from two different hospitals, as well as 10 homes for elderly people, had to be moved, according to police and firefighters in Frankfurt.

The last baby born in the Frankfurt hospital's maternity ward, the largest in the state of Hesse, had been evacuated to a nearby clinic, according to the hospital's head of neonatology, Steffen Kunzmann. A total of 20 newborns have been moved in phases since Thursday.

"The solidarity shown by the surrounding clinics is fantastic. All of them immediately offered their support," Kunzmann added. In addition, more than 100 adult patients were relocated to other clinics, according to hospital sources. Ambulances were lined up outside the hospital Saturday, waiting to pick up patients.

Police in Frankfurt handed out flyers to remind residents once more to evacuate and asked neighbors to reach out to anyone who may not have gotten the messages. Police planned to bulk up patrols on Saturday to ensure that thieves and other criminals would not take advantage of the empty residences.

Meanwhile, ordnance experts defused an unexploded World War II-era aerial bomb in the Karthause section of Koblenz on Saturday.

The 21,000 residents who lived within the bomb's 1-kilometer radius were allowed to return after a large-scale evacuation operation.

The operation was slightly delayed after several people in the affected area would leave their homes only after intensive talks, and there were two cases were residences were forcefully evacuated.

A prison, two train stations, a hospital and a senior home all had to be evacuated in the days leading to Saturday.

The 500-kilogram aerial bomb was found Monday during construction for a new kindergarten.

Experts estimate that close to a quarter of a million bombs dropped on Germany by the Allied Forces during World War II did not explode due to technical faults.