Bomb disposal experts in the German city of Koblenz have successfully defused two bombs from World War II found in the riverbed of the Rhine.
They were discovered when water levels fell because of a prolonged dry spell.
The bigger of the two bombs weighed 1.8 tonnes and was dropped by the Royal Air Force between 1943 and 1945.
Nearly half the city’s population – 45,000 – has been evacuated, including the inhabitants of two hospitals, seven nursing homes and a prison. It is the biggest bomb disposal operation in Germany since 1945. The smaller of the two bombs – weighing 125kg (275lb) – was dropped by US forces. Experts said it was the more dangerous of the two.
Both bombs have now been made safe in a three-hour operation.”We are relieved,” fire department spokesman Manfred Morschhaeuser told the German news agency DPA. A smoke grenade canister found at the same site was blown up in a controlled explosion. The BBC’s Stephen Evans, in Berlin, says more bombs are expected to be discovered because of the low water levels in the Rhine. About 600 tonnes of unexploded ordnance are discovered in Germany every year, our correspondent says. Everyone living within a 2km (1.25 mile) radius of the bomb site was ordered to leave the area.
Shelters with 12,000 beds were set up in schools to accommodate those with no other place to go.