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

German authorities prepare to dispose of WW2 bomb

Thousands of people have been evacuated in Europe's major financial hub Frankfurt during an operation to defuse a large unexploded WWII bomb, German police said on Sunday.

Police used a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging equipment to check that each street had been cleared in the potential blast zone should defusing the bomb go wrong.

About 21,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes and workplaces in the western city of Koblenz as a precaution before specialists attempt to defuse the 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) United States bomb on Saturday afternoon.

Around 21,000 people had to leave the area in Koblenz as the 500-kilogramme (1,100-pound) bomb was successfully defused, before the fire brigade allowed residents to return to their homes. Reportedly even Germany's central bank, with its $70 billion in gold reserves, is in the danger area.

If the bomb isn't defused, it could cause an explosion big enough to flatten a city block... a threat severe enough to cause the largest post-war evacuation in Germany's history.

A police auto next to a blue tent covering a British World War II bomb in Frankfurt. About half the 2.7 million tonnes of bombs dropped by Allied powers during World War Two landed on German soil.

The city has opened shelters for evacuees to spend the day, and most museums are opening their doors for free.

Thousands of unexploded bombs from the war are still found in Germany every year.

Do the bombs pose a real threat? The rate of fatalities has slowed since, with 11 technicians said to have been killed in Germany since 2000.

The device was found last week in the city's leafy Westend neighbourhood, home to many wealthy bankers.

The problem is also worse in certain parts of Germany. But with experts estimating that some 350-400 bombs remain buried, the task is far from complete.

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