Frankfurt residents begin filtering home after WWII bomb defused

Frankfurt am Main: Residents in Frankfurt began to filter back towardshome after a World War II-era bomb that caused the largest evacuationoperation in post-war Germany was successfully defused.
Authorities in the country’s financial capital were gradually openingthe secured area, giving priority to moving the sick and elderly backto their homes.
Pedestrians, cyclists and public transport were allowed to return,while drivers were asked to be patient and allow ambulances through.
The operation in central Frankfurt to get residents to safety was the biggest evacuation of its kind in post-war Germany, the city’s security chief Markus Frank said.
After hours of delay as police struggled to get the area cleared, bomb disposal experts finally managed to disarm the explosive in the evening.
Police then began lifting the evacuation order progressively, giving priority for patients in two hospitals within the affected district to be brought back to their wards.
Close to the city centre, the bomb was discovered in the Westend district, home to many of Frankfurt’s top bankers, including European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi — who is known to spend his weekends away from the city. The massive operation began at dawn, as homes and buildings within a 1.5-kilometre radius of the site were ordered cleared by 0600 GMT.
But some people were still in the evacuation zone well past the deadline as police carried out door-to-door checks.
At one building where officers were ringing doorbells and using loudspeakers to announce the evacuation, a man and a woman emerged, saying they were unaware they were in the affected district.
At midday, emergency services were still unable to give the all-clear for bomb disposal units to move in.
After a delay of at least two hours, experts were finally able to start disarming the bomb, an HC 4000, a high-capacity explosive used in air raids by Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II.
Some elderly residents affected by the evacuation recalled poignant memories of the war.
“I was here in Frankfurt’s Westend during the war. I heard the bombs falling when I was in the basement, and I helped to extinguish the fires. So I knew how it feels and for me it’s not a new experience,” said Doris Scheidt, 91.
Another resident, Eva Jarchow, said the evacuation “reminds me of our flight from Berlin when the bombs were still falling during the war. Here, at least, it’s calm and sunny.”
Giesela Gulich, meanwhile, had a “queasy feeling about it (as) the bomb stayed in the soil for so long, but now, when it’s being moved, you don’t know what can happen.”
City officials had readied halls as temporary lodgings, while museums were offering free entry. Others had packed their bags and were ready to head out for a full day.
David Hoffmann, 29, who works at a bank, was loading up luggage in his car. “I have the essentials with me — the most important documents,” he said, though he complained that he had not received any leaflets about the evacuation.
More than 70 years after the end of the war, unexploded bombs are regularly found buried in Germany, legacies of the intense bombing campaigns by the Allied forces against Nazi Germany. — AFP