German drives WWII bomb to fire station

People in Germany are no strangers to finding WWII unexploded bombs in gardens or construction sites. Although it happens regularly, one man's relaxed approach to disposing of his find alarmed authorities.

The discovery of an unexploded World War II bomb in the western German city of Mönchengladbach on Thursday had firefighters holding their breath — but not for the usual reasons.

Nature and Environment | 04.08.2018

According to city officials, a man uncovered a rusted piece of metal that was around 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) long while working in his garden.

The metal cylinder turned out to be an unexploded incendiary bomb, one that was likely dropped in a British air raid during WWII.

Instead of calling the authorities to send in a team of experts to examine his find, the man picked up the unexploded bomb, put it in a cardboard box and drove to the fire station.

Upon realizing that they were dealing with a bomb, firefighters placed it in a closed-off area outside and covered it with dirt. They alerted a bomb disposal team in the nearby city of Düsseldorf, who will dispose of the incendiary bomb.

'Utmost caution is required'

It was not immediately clear whether the man knew he'd come across a bomb when he decided to drive it to the station himself.

Nevertheless, Mönchengladbach officials cautioned all residents to never "touch, move or transport" devices that could be unexploded WWII bombs or munitions.

"In all cases where an explosive ordnance is found, utmost caution is required!" the city said in a statement.

They urged residents to call the police or firefighters should they come across an object believed to be a WWII bomb.

Unexploded bombs, munitions, grenades and weapons from WWII are regularly unearthed in Germany, particularly during construction work. For particularly large bombs, authorities order evacuations when defusing the

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In May, a bomb partially exploded while it was being defused in the eastern German city of Dresden.

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What is unexploded ordnance?

Unexploded ordnance (UXO or sometimes also abbreviated to UO), unexploded bombs (UXBs), or explosive remnants of war (ERW) are explosive weapons such as bombs, shells, grenades, land mines, naval mines and cluster munitions that did not explode when they were deployed. Unexploded ordnance still poses the risk of detonation, even decades after they were used or discarded.

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Why does Germany have a bomb problem?

Between 1940 and 1945, US and British forces dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe. Half of those bombs targeted Germany. Experts estimate that close to a quarter of a million bombs did not explode due to technical faults. Thousands of these bombs are still hidden underground, sometimes a few meters down and sometimes just below the surface.

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How big is the issue?

The industrial Ruhr area and the Lower Rhine region were heavily bombed, as were the cities of Dresden, Hamburg and Hanover. So this is where most of the unexploded ordnance is found. Bombs are usually unearthed during construction work or are discovered during the examination of historical aerial images. Experts say it could still take decades to clear all of the remaining unexploded ordnance.

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What happens when an unexploded bomb is found?

When confronted with the discovery of an UXO, UO or a UXB, bomb disposal experts have to decide whether to defuse it or to carry out a controlled explosion. Many have lost their lives on the job. German authorities are under pressure to remove unexploded ordnance from populated areas. Experts argue that the bombs are becoming more dangerous as time goes by due to material fatigue.

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Have many bomb disposal experts have died?

Eleven bomb technicians have been killed in Germany since 2000, including three who died in a single explosion while trying to defuse a 1,000-pound bomb on the site of a popular flea market in Gottingen in 2010.

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Which was the biggest evacuation?

A 1.8-tonne bomb dropped by Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) was found in the city centre of Augsburg on December 20, 2016. The find prompted a large scale bomb disposal operation and consequently the evacuation of over 54,000 people on December 25. To date, this remains the biggest evacuation for the removal of World War II unexploded ordnance in Germany.

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What’s the latest?

Authorities conducted another big bomb disposal operation in May 2017, with 50,000 residents in the north-western city of Hanover forced to evacuate their homes. Thirteen unexploded ordnances from the 1940s were removed. Hanover was a frequent target of Allied bombing in the latter years of the war. On October 9, 1943, some 261,000 bombs were dropped on the city.