Frankfurt city officials said on Sunday that the city will evacuate some 60,000 people in the nation’s biggest such manoeuvre since the war while officials disarm the British bomb discovered on a building site this week in Frankfurt’s leafy Westend, where many wealthy bankers live.
Officials have warned that Germany’s financial capital could grind to a halt on Monday if residents don’t heed orders to vacate their homes to allow the defusing of a massive World War Two bomb.
An uncontrolled explosion of the bomb would be big enough to flatten a city block, Frankfurt fire chief Reinhard Ries told reporters.
“This bomb has more than 1.4 tonnes of explosives,” he said. “It’s not just fragments that are the problem, but also the pressure that it creates that would dismantle all the buildings in a 100-metre (yard) radius.”.
The HC 4000 bomb is assumed to have been dropped by Britain’s Royal Air Force during the 1939-45 war. Such finds are not unusual, but rarely are the unexploded bombs so large and in such a sensitive position.
The compulsory evacuation radius of 1.5 km around the bomb includes police headquarters, two hospitals, transport systems and Germany’s central bank storing $70 billion in gold reserves.
Police said they couldn’t begin defusing the bomb until they were sure everyone had left the area. They would ring every doorbell and use heat-sensing technology from overhead helicopters to help them identify stragglers, they said.
Roads and transport systems, including the parts of 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.
Frankfurters can spend the day at shelters set up at the trade fair and the Jahrhunderthalle convention center, police have said.