- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2011

BERLIN (AP) — A massive World War II-era British bomb that triggered the evacuation of about half of the 107,000 residents of the western German city of Koblenz was successfully defused Sunday, authorities said.

It was one of Germany’s biggest bomb-related evacuations since the war ended, with some 2,500 police officers, firefighters and paramedics on duty across the city to secure the operation.

Experts successfully defused the 1.8-ton British bomb and a 275-pound U.S. bomb that was discovered last month after the Rhine’s water level fell significantly because of a prolonged lack of rain, said Heiko Breitbarth, a spokesman for Koblenz’s firefighters.

Some 45,000 residents living within a radius of about 1.2 miles from the bomb site had to leave their houses early Sunday before the evacuation order was lifted in the evening, the city said on its website. Among those ordered to evacuate were seven nursing homes, two hospitals and a prison with some 200 inmates.

The British bomb could have cause massive damage had it exploded.

“I did my job, that was all,” lead defusing expert Horst Lenz told the local daily Rhein Zeitung.

Finding unexploded bombs dropped by the Allies over Germany during World War II is common 65 years after the war’s end. The explosives usually are defused or detonated by experts without causing injuries.

Authorities in Koblenz set up shelters for the evacuees and used buses to carry them to safety.

Train and road traffic came to a halt in the area, some 80 miles northwest of Frankfurt during the operation.

The residents of Koblenz, which was heavily bombed during World War II, are used to bomb scares. City officials said 28 smaller war bombs have been found there since 1999, the German news agency Dapd reported. Such bombs often are found during construction work or by farmers plowing their fields.

Separately, another 200 people had to be evacuated in the southern German city of Nuremberg as experts there defused another bomb left from the war. The 155-pound bomb of unknown origin was defused in 15 minutes, the city said in a statement.

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