About half of the residents of the German city of Koblenz are under evacuation orders so officials can work to defuse a massive bomb that was found in the Rhine River. Individuals within the evacuation zone will need to leave by Sunday, Dec. 4.
Stars and Stripes reported the World War II era bomb is believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force.
The region where Koblenz is located has been experiencing a dry spell, and as the water levels dropped in the Rhine, locals discovered the huge, unexploded, bomb. The bomb, weighing 4,000 pounds, and "packed with more than 3,000 pounds of explosives", was found in the Rhine River along with other unexploded ordnance, including a 275-pound American bomb and a German smoke grenade.
The presence of these explosives now requires 45,000 residents to evacuate while the bomb is dealt with. If the bomb were to explode, it could cause substantial damage and/or injury.
According to Stars and Stripes, officials estimate "a bomb this size could cause a crater more than 20 yards wide and six yards deep with a destruction radius of more than 70 yards if it were detonated."
The evacuation zone is about a mile radius. As a part of the evacuation, a prison, seven retirement homes and two local hospitals also need to be vacated prior to the attempt to defuse the enormous bomb. Officials are setting up emergency centers for people who do not have any place to go.
German explosive experts and the German army are taking lead in defusing the bomb. As the explosive is currently sitting in 16 inches of water, and partially obscured in mud, this will pose a challenge to experts trying to neutralize the bomb.
According to Spiegel, smaller-scaled evacuations are not uncommon due to unexploded ordnance being found. However the size of this bomb has "sparked security measures of historic proportions", the German publication said.
Currently a temporary dam has been constructed, made of approximately 350 sandbags, with plans to pump the water out of the vicinity where the bomb rests.
The fire department has established a telephone hotline. Fire department spokesman Manfred Morschhäuser told DAPD, a German news agency, "Several hundred callers are getting in touch each day with their questions and problems."
A flier has been distributed to residents, and door-to-door visits will occur on Sunday to ensure people have left the vicinity while experts work to neutralize the bomb. As the work enures, it is expected more bomb discoveries will be made along the riverbed, Spiegel said.
Despite the fact the WWII era bomb is over 60 years old, the explosive is most likely still viable and dangerous, so precautions, such as this massive evacuation, must be taken. In June 2008 a 2,200 pound German bomb was found near the site where the 2012 Olympics will be held.
In 2006 an actual explosion occurred in Germany during construction work on a German highway when a bomb detonated and one worker was killed. At that time authorities said it may take decades before all the unexploded WW II era bombs are cleared out of the region.