MORE than 54,000 people in Germany are being evacuated from their homes on Christmas Day after the discovery of an unexploded British World War II bomb, according to reports. Residents in the city of Augsburg, in southern Germany, were forced out as part of the largest evacuation in the country since the end of World War II.
The 1.8-tonne bomb was found during construction work in the city and it is expected to take most of the day to defuse. Residents living within a one mile radius of the bomb were made to evacuate their homes from 8.00am local time. Police said all homes in the vicinity will need to be cleared by 10.00am on Christmas Day and the evacuation is expected to disrupt 34,000 households.
According to local news website Augsburger Allgemeine, the evacuation could continue into the night, though police say it is impossible to determine exactly how long it will take to make the area safe again. Schools, sports halls and exhibition centres will be opened to the public for those unable to stay with family or friends.
Large parts of the southern German city were destroyed on February 25 and 26 in 1944, when the RAF attacked along with US bombers. The city is approximately 50miles north-west of Munich.
Though it is not uncommon for World War II bombs to be uncovered in Germany, this discovery is believed to have prompted one of the largest evacuations since the end of the devastating war.