Railway activities was brought to an abrupt halt on the morning of Wednesday, December 1st in Germany’s third largest city, Munich. Railway traffic hit a high and many activities were brought to a standstill as security, medical and military officials swarmed the city’s very busy and large train station.
Moments later, the city’s police authorities released an official statement on twitter that revealed that a WW2 bomb had exploded leading to the injury of 4 people working on the site of the explosion. The reports also revealed that there was a loud explosion earlier followed by a column of smoke rising from above the site earlier that day. The explosion left one of the victims in a very critical condition.
Just two days later, A 100-metre cordon was put in place as a precaution the discovery of yet another world war 2 explosive relic just 65ft away from a railway construction site in Netley, Hampshire.
These incidences as well as several others are contributing to Germany’s normal yearly discovery of 2,000 tons worth of explosive relic from WW2.
As much as the idea of stumbling upon a 60-year-old bomb buried 6ft under the ground sounds crazy, it is really not uncommon in parts of the world that felt the pangs of WW2 the most. Britain and Germany have reported a total of tens of thousands of tons worth of explosives discovered in the last decade alone. The phenomenon is so common that the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) had to release a guide for constructions workers on how to deal with these unexploded devices in 2009. This was in response to the fact that most reports involving the discovery of these war relics had to do with construction; either while foundations and tunnels were being dug or while railway networks were being set up.
Even though most of these bombs do not eventually go off and are turned to objects of amusement and education in museums, there are some that are still very capable of exploding and the recent events have reminded us on why great care must be taken when dealing with areas prone to have them.
What happens if you find a one…?
The guidelines reveal that upon the discovery of a bomb, the must military immediately get involved. Then depending on the level of the threat the bomb poses, cordons are set up and people residing within the reach of that column are evacuated. History tells us that this evacuation can involve anything from a free hundred people to as much as thousands having to leave their living or working residences.
Then professionals attempt to diffuse the bomb.
In WW2 single bombs were rarely every released. They usually came in clusters from airplanes. Therefore, the likelihood that there will be others in the same vicinity is quite high as thus the entire area must be properly scanned.
Once the bomb has been safely diffused and safely conveyed away, people are allowed to return to their homes.
Why there seems to be so many WW2 explosives around?
Well, it all dates back to the 1940’s during the heat of WW2 when Germany, Britain and U.S. exchanged hundreds of thousands of tons worth of bombs.
Britain for example is a major culprit of undiscovered bombs and this can be clearly explained when one remembers its 60-night arial bombardment that began on the 7th of September 1940; in which some 30,000 tonnes of bombs dropped on Britain’s major cities.
Also, between 1940 and 1945, U.S. and British air forces dropped 2.7 million tons of bombs on Europe. It is said that half of those bombs did not explode due to problems with manufacturing. In other words, Germany has about 1.2 million tons of explosives lodge deep within its soil. With the average discovery of 3000 tons a year over the last 70 years, Germany is yet to find quarter of these earth-deep lodge explosives. Whatever shall they do?