August 30, 2012 8:45 am
What’s the best thing to do if you have an old, 550-pound WWII bomb lying around? Detonate it, naturally. Which is exactly what these Germans did in Munich on Tuesday.
The bomb was discovered by workers the day before on the site of an old bar that was being demolished. Before detonation experts set it off, about 2,500 residents were evacuated from the area, the BBC says. Normally they would try to defuse the thing, but luckily for our viewing pleasure, that wasn’t an option this time. The BBC writes, “Experts decided it was not possible to make the device safe because of its unusual fuse, which operated by means of a chemical reaction rather than the mechanical device that many Allied World War II bombs used.”
This stray bomb isn’t exactly odd. Last year, Germans defused two bombs, a 1.8 ton explosive dropped by the Royal Air Force and a 275 lb American bomb that were found in Koblenz. About half the city’s population had to be evacuated for safety. It took three hours to defuse them—which apparently wasn’t exactly a high-tech affair. The BBC says that the bomb-disposal experts “simply wrenched off the fuse.”
Europe is full of ammunition from the war that fell and never exploded. During the war, about 465,000 tons of explosives hit the ground in Berlin alone. About one in eight didn’t explode. Every year Germans discover about 600 tons of ammunition from both world wars. Below is an image of a bomb found in 1918, after World War I. That’s a lot of kabooms still left to be had.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.