Frankfurt evacuates 60000 residents ahead of effort to dispose of old bomb

The sealed off area where a British World War II bomb was found
Bernd Kammerer  EPA

The bomb was found Tuesday close to the Goethe University Frankfurt compound, police said in a statement.

The bomb was discovered on a building site last week and around 60,000 people were ordered to leave their residences in what was Germany's biggest evacuation since the war.

Police set up cordons around the evacuation area, which covered a radius of 1.5 kilometers, as residents hauling suitcases or riding bicycles left the zone.

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.

People near the sealed off area where a British World War II bomb was found during construction work in Wismarer Strasse Frankfurt Main Germany

Authorities began evacuating hospitals and care homes Saturday, as well as the German federal reserve and a major local broadcaster. Others sat in cafes on the edge of the evacuation zone. If that fails, a water jet was to be used to cut the fuses. Officials estimate 15 per cent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six metres deep. The reason is the disposal of a British bomb from the Second World War, Reuters reported.

"This bomb has more than 1.4 tonnes of explosives", Frankfurt fire chief Reinhard Ries said.

Among those moved to safety are prison inmates and hospital patients.

And, although it's not unusual for live bombs and munition to be uncovered in Germany - 2,000 tonnes are found each year, even under buildings - it's rare for them to be so large and found in such a sensitive position. "By offering free entry to all city museums we want to help those affected to spend a few hours without worrying", Frankfurt's Mayor Peter Feldmann said in a statement.

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