BLOCKBUSTER BOMB FROM WORLD WAR II THREATENS 65,000 MODERN FRANKFURTERS, EVACUATED
History sometimes reaches out and reminds us of the past in disturbing and even dangerous ways. That was certainly the case this week as over 65,000 people were evacuated in Frankfurt as a precaution as authorities prepared to defuse a World War II era,1.4-ton HC 4000 air mine. If that sounds like a lot of bomb, it was and –well- was again. Fortunately the bomb was successfully defused, but it’s removal will remain a fairly dangerous endeavor until complete and the explosive can be disposed of.
AIR MINE WAS ABLE TO DESTROY WHOLE BLOCKS, STILL A DESTRUCTIVE FORCE AFTER 72 YEARS
The “air mine” was one of the largest explosives of its kind used in World War II. It’s ability to destroy entire rows of buildings earned it the nickname the blockbuster. It is presumed to have been dropped, but not detonated, during the air war of 1939-1945 when the Allies waged war on Nazi Germany. It was uncovered and discovered during recent construction work after being buried for over 72 years.
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BLAST WAVE COULD TAKE DOWN BUILDINGS ACROSS MORE THAN A FOOTBALL FIELD
“This bomb has more than 1.4 tonnes of explosives,” Frankfurt fire department chief Reinhard Ries said, according to ABC News. “It’s not just fragments that are the problem, but also the pressure that it creates that would dismantle all the buildings in a 100-metre radius.”
According to the BBC, the evacuation zone contained “20 retirement homes, an opera house, and Germany’s central bank where half the country’s gold reserves are stored.”
“We want to avoid not being able to return to these buildings on Monday morning,” Ries added. “That would create a very difficult situation for Frankfurt.”
GERMANY HOLDS OVER 100,000 UNEXPLODED WWII BOMBS, 11 KILLED DEFUSING SINCE 2000
Experts estimate thousands of tons of explosives from World War II-era saturation bombing still remain scattered around Germany, holdouts from the estimated 2.7 million tons of bombs Allied air forces dropped to eviscerate Nazi military and industrial capacity. According to Smithsonian, authorities discover approximately 2,000 tons of explosives a year, and from 2000-2016, 11 bomb technicians were killed in failed defusal attempts.
Just the day before, authorities evacuated 20,000 in preparation to defuse a US-made bomb in the city of Koblenz.
GERMAN TOWN ORANIENBURG HAS HUNDREDS OF UNDISCOVERED BOMBS WAITING TO BE FOUND AND DEFUSED
One town, Oranienburg, hosted Nazi chemical facilities, aircraft manufacturing plants, railway junctions and an S.S. arms depot, according to Deutsche Welle, leading the Allies to drop more than 10,000 bombs on the area. Technical University of Cottbus bomb expert Wolfgang Spyra told the news agency he estimated seven to 15 percent of the bombs were duds, meaning hundreds still laid under the town.
Explosives used in World War II-era Allied ordnance were generally stable enough to remain dangerous for long amounts of time, though other components of the bombs often degrade, making them particularly hazardous to try and defuse.
“The scale of this bomb is overwhelming,” Ries said, per CNN. “I have never seen anything like it.”