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Augsburg to evacuate 54,000 on Christmas morning as World War II bomb defused

In the largest such evacuation since the end of World War II, 54,000 people in Augsburg are to move out of their homes on Christmas morning. Police do not know how long it will take to make the bomb safe.

Authorities have ordered residents in the southern German city within a 1.8 kilometer (1.1 mile) radius to evacuate their homes on Christmas morning. A bomb-disposal team will disarm the massive 1.8-ton aerial bomb which was launched on the city during the Second World War.

The impacted area covers much of Augsburg's central historic district, including the city hall and cathedral. On Saturday, patients at a hospital clinic were transferred to another hospital or allowed to temporarily go home.

Vorbereitung zur Evakuierung in Augsburg (picture-alliance/dpa/S.Puchner)

Ahead of the evacuation patients at a hospital clinic were transferred.

Around 4,000 police, firefighters and emergency service personnel will be on hand to support the operation, which will impact 32,000 households. Peole without another place to go will be offered shelter in schools.

Seven decades on since the end of World War II, finding unexploded bombs dropped by Allied forces on Nazi Germany is not uncommon.

Sunday's evacuation will be the largest since 45,000 people were obliged to leave their homes when a bomb was removed from Koblenz in 2011.

Large parts of Augsburg were destroyed in February 1944, when the city was attacked by hundreds of British and US bombers. A major raid was organized against the city in April 1942. 

cw/jm (AP, dpa)

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