More than 54,000 people in Germany were forced to vacate their homes on the day of Christmas after an unexploded British bomb from the World War II was discovered. The evacuation marked the country's biggest after cessation of war and hostilities.
Soon after the discovery of the bomb in the southern city of Augsburg, an operation was launched on Sunday to diffuse it. The operation was conducted on a massive scale, which took almost 11 hours and involved around 900 police officers, according to reports. The detonation of the bomb was said to be successful and it ended around 1800 GMT.
The bomb, weighing 1.8 tonne, was discovered on Tuesday at a construction site in the Bavarian city. However, according to reports, the authorities waited until Sunday to come with the logistics required to make the diffusion safe for everyone.
Although it has been 70 years since the second World War ended, unexploded bombs are still found buried underground in Germany. The third-largest city in Bavaria, Augsburg, was targeted several times during the war by allied forces to strike against the Nazi Germany.
Since there was a threat of the bomb exploding while the engineers were attempting to diffuse it, a 1,500-metre exclusion zone was created for the operation in case of any untoward happenings. Police spokesperson Manfred Gottschalk said that the "mega bomb" was diffused by two experts, DPA news agency reported.
Police did a thorough check of all the houses in the region to ascertain if all the residents had been evacuated, before going ahead with the diffusing operation. Reports state that in order to ensure a proper evacuation, around 100 buses and trams were deployed in the region.
Augsburg mayor Kurt Gribi had urged everyone concerned to leave the area, "if possible by themselves," in a video that was posted on Twitter. He had called for "each person to verify that their relatives, parents and friends have found places to stay outside the (security) zone... Look out for one another."
The bomb was later diffused and the evacuation was suspended. The authorities also gave the residents a heads up to return to their homes.