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A defused HC-4000 bomb sits in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany, waiting to be transported on a cargo ship. The device strapped on top of the bomb was placed there identify it and help it float on top of the water. The nearly 4,000-pound World War II era bomb was deactivated Dec. 4, 2011.
A defused HC-4000 bomb sits in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany, waiting to be transported on a cargo ship. The device strapped on top of the bomb was placed there identify it and help it float on top of the water. The nearly 4,000-pound World War II era bomb was deactivated Dec. 4, 2011. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A defused HC-4000 bomb sits in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany, waiting to be transported on a cargo ship. The device strapped on top of the bomb was placed there identify it and help it float on top of the water. The nearly 4,000-pound World War II era bomb was deactivated Dec. 4, 2011.
A defused HC-4000 bomb sits in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany, waiting to be transported on a cargo ship. The device strapped on top of the bomb was placed there identify it and help it float on top of the water. The nearly 4,000-pound World War II era bomb was deactivated Dec. 4, 2011. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
The defused HC-4000 is encircled by sandbags in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany. Workers pumped out the water surrounding the bomb while they worked to defuse it Dec. 4, 2011. About 45,000 residents who were ordered to leave their homes, started to return after the all clear was given that Sunday evening.
The defused HC-4000 is encircled by sandbags in the Rhine River in Koblenz, Germany. Workers pumped out the water surrounding the bomb while they worked to defuse it Dec. 4, 2011. About 45,000 residents who were ordered to leave their homes, started to return after the all clear was given that Sunday evening. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Workers began the task Dec. 4, 2011, of defusing a 4,000 pound bomb, dropped during World War II,  in Koblenz, Germany. Workers built sandbags around the bomb (pictured with the crane) to drain the water surrounding it. The flags mark an area where an American bomb and a grenade also were found recently in the Rhine River.
Workers began the task Dec. 4, 2011, of defusing a 4,000 pound bomb, dropped during World War II, in Koblenz, Germany. Workers built sandbags around the bomb (pictured with the crane) to drain the water surrounding it. The flags mark an area where an American bomb and a grenade also were found recently in the Rhine River. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A pair of policemen guard the boundary of an evacuation zone in Koblenz, Germany on Dec. 4, 2011. About 45,000 residents in Koblenz were evacuated as bomb disposal experts began to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II.
A pair of policemen guard the boundary of an evacuation zone in Koblenz, Germany on Dec. 4, 2011. About 45,000 residents in Koblenz were evacuated as bomb disposal experts began to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Ambulances line the street in front of a nursing home in Koblenz, Germany.  Residents of the home were among about 45,000 in the city who were ordered to leave for several hours Dec. 4, 2011, as authorities worked to defuse World War II ordnance, recently discovered in the area.
Ambulances line the street in front of a nursing home in Koblenz, Germany. Residents of the home were among about 45,000 in the city who were ordered to leave for several hours Dec. 4, 2011, as authorities worked to defuse World War II ordnance, recently discovered in the area. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A resident of a nursing home receives help from medical personnel. The home was one of seven homes for the elderly that had to be evacuated after a recent discovery of a 4,000 pound bomb, dropped during World War II, in the Rhine River. Authorities ordered the evacuation while experts worked to deactivate the bomb Dec. 4, 2011.
A resident of a nursing home receives help from medical personnel. The home was one of seven homes for the elderly that had to be evacuated after a recent discovery of a 4,000 pound bomb, dropped during World War II, in the Rhine River. Authorities ordered the evacuation while experts worked to deactivate the bomb Dec. 4, 2011. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
German Army soldiers have the road all to themselves on one of Koblenz, Germany's main streets Dec. 4, 2011.  Authorities evacuated about 45,000 residents of the city while experts worked to deactivate World War II ordnance discovered in the area.
German Army soldiers have the road all to themselves on one of Koblenz, Germany's main streets Dec. 4, 2011. Authorities evacuated about 45,000 residents of the city while experts worked to deactivate World War II ordnance discovered in the area. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Police and medical personnel cruised empty streets in Koblenz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2011, where authorities ordered tens-of-thousands of residents to  leave while experts deactivated a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped during World War II.
Police and medical personnel cruised empty streets in Koblenz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2011, where authorities ordered tens-of-thousands of residents to leave while experts deactivated a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
An ambulance patrols the streets of Koblenz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2011, as crews began the task of defusing unexploded bombs, believed to have been dropped on the city during World War II.
An ambulance patrols the streets of Koblenz, Germany, on Dec. 4, 2011, as crews began the task of defusing unexploded bombs, believed to have been dropped on the city during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A Koblenz resident receives help from German Red Cross workers. She was among about 45,000 residents of the city ordered to leave their homes for a few hours Dec. 4, 2011, as experts worked to to defuse bombs found recently that were dropped during World War II.
A Koblenz resident receives help from German Red Cross workers. She was among about 45,000 residents of the city ordered to leave their homes for a few hours Dec. 4, 2011, as experts worked to to defuse bombs found recently that were dropped during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A police van sits in an evacuated area of Koblenz, Germany.  About 45,000 people were evacuated from their homes, hospitals and prisons, as bomb disposal experts started to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped during World War II.
A police van sits in an evacuated area of Koblenz, Germany. About 45,000 people were evacuated from their homes, hospitals and prisons, as bomb disposal experts started to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
A pair of policemen guard the boundary where the evacuation zone in Koblenz, Germany begins.  About 45,000 residents in Koblenz were evacuated Dec. 4, 2011, as bomb disposal experts began to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II.
A pair of policemen guard the boundary where the evacuation zone in Koblenz, Germany begins. About 45,000 residents in Koblenz were evacuated Dec. 4, 2011, as bomb disposal experts began to defuse a 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the Koblenz fire brigade gather to discuss events on Dec. 4, 2011. A recently discovered 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II, led authorities to order about 45,000 residents of the city to leave for a few hours while experts worked to deactivate the ordnance.
Members of the Koblenz fire brigade gather to discuss events on Dec. 4, 2011. A recently discovered 4,000 pound bomb, believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during World War II, led authorities to order about 45,000 residents of the city to leave for a few hours while experts worked to deactivate the ordnance. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)
Police in Koblenz, Germany, went door-to-door morning of Dec. 4, 2011, to ensure that approximately 45,000 residents affected by an evacuation order had left their homes. The evacuation was ordered while experts worked to deactivate World War II ordnance discovered recently in the Rhine River.
Police in Koblenz, Germany, went door-to-door morning of Dec. 4, 2011, to ensure that approximately 45,000 residents affected by an evacuation order had left their homes. The evacuation was ordered while experts worked to deactivate World War II ordnance discovered recently in the Rhine River. (Mark Patton/Stars and Stripes)

KOBLENZ, Germany — Parts of the city of Koblenz were eerily quiet Sunday, after 45,000 residents — nearly half of the city’s population — left their homes to comply with an evacuation order while experts worked to deactivate a nearly 4,000 pound World War II-era bomb discovered recently in the Rhine River.

By late afternoon, authorities announced the bomb and another, smaller bomb found nearby had been successfully deactivated. Officials said Sunday’s evacuation, which affected residents within about a one-mile radius of where the bombs were found, was one of the largest in Germany since World War II.

And, the bomb, dubbed an HC-4000, packed with more than 3,000 pounds of explosives, was one of the largest unemploded bombs ever found, officials said. It was believed to have been dropped by the British Royal Air Force during the war.

Authorities said that if it were to have detonated, a bomb its size could cause destruction in a radius of more than 70 yards and blow out windows half a mile away.

A 275-pound American bomb also was deactivated, authorities said. Two teams of four bomb disposal experts worked to defuse the bombs. Officials said the American bomb was the more challenging because its mechanisms were damaged.

The main challenge of the larger bomb was draining the water away, which officials did by piling up sandbags to create a dam so they could pump out the water. When first discovered on Nov. 20, the HC-4000 was in 16 inches of water, partly buried in mud, making the detonation fuse a challenge to reach.

The bombs were discovered because water levels in the Rhine have dropped significantly due to lack of rain over the past few weeks. Ironically, as the defused HC-4000 was raised out of the Rhine onto a cargo ship, a steady downpour fell onto onlookers who were allowed to return to the area.

Police went door-to-door during the morning hours on Sunday making sure that people had obeyed the orders to leave their homes by 9a.m.

The Red Cross helped to transfer patients from two hospitals and residents of homes for the elderly fom the evacuation zone. Inmates at a prison within the evacuation zone also were moved. The train station was closed.

The only traffic in the evacuated areas of the city were German Army jeeps, ambulances and police cars. Police and members of the fire department were the only people on the streets. Seven evacuation centers were set up, but only about 500 people total showed up. Authorities said most residents went to stay with friends or relatives and were gone before Sunday’s deadline.

Most of those at the evacuation centers seemed to be taking it all in stride. The discovery of unexploded bombs from World War II is not uncommon in Germany. According to Marco Ofenstein, a Rheinland-Pfalz explosions specialist, 40 unexploded bombs from World War II have been discovered this year just in Rheinland-Pfalz, the state that Koblenz belongs to.

Ofenstein said residents took seriously warnings about the danger of this bomb.

“There’s lots of explosives in the bomb, it’s different than others,” Ofenstein said.

According to Ofenstein, it was probably dropped in 1944 or 1945 as the city’s train stations were heavily targeted by the Allies. He said the HC-4000 was probably used to blow off roofs and windows within a target area, opening it up for the use of incendiary bombs later.

pattonm@estripes.osd.mil

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