Authorities have performed a controlled detonation of a 250 kilogram WWII-era bomb in the heart of one of Germany’s largest cities.
Thousands of Munich residents were forced to leave their homes before the explosive, discovered under a nightclub famous for being a favorite hangout of the Rolling Stones in the 1970s, could be detonated.
Despite precautions, the explosion still caused extensive damage – and it’s still unclear who will pay for the shattered windows, busted doors and burnt-out buildings.
Explosives experts placed straw matting around the bomb, which swirled upwards in the vortex of heat created by the blast and set the roofs of five nearby buildings on fire.
Thirty fire engines and 200 firemen were on site to battle the blazes.
“Virtually all the window panes around the area have gone, but luckily no one was injured, and that is the main thing,”said Diethard Posorski, head of the team that carried out the mission. The blast could be heard throughout the city of 1.4 million.
Gunether Sobieralski, a veteran bomb disposal expert who has defused 100 Allied devices in the past few years, was flown to Munich to help.
The plan was to blow up the detonator only, but in the end it was deemed safer to destroy the entire bomb. Hours after the blast, the first of nearly 3,000 residents were allowed to return to their houses and apartments. Many more are still waiting for word on when they’ll be able to go home, with police conducting an assessment of the damage caused by the blast.
A crater is pictured at the Schwabing residential area in downtown Munich August 29, 2012. Bomb experts blew up a 250-kilo World War II bomb on Tuesday night, after they decided they could not defuse it. (REUTERS/Michael Dalder)