Skip to main content

Suspected World War II-era bomb detonates in Germany, killing one

By Anna Maja Rappard, CNN
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 2121 GMT (0521 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The blast killed a bulldozer driver and at least 13 other people at a rubble storage site
  • Unexploded World War II-era bombs are still found in Germany decades after conflict
  • Bombs are common enough that disposal teams check for them before construction
  • Three bomb disposal squad members died in 2010 when a device exploded in Gottingen

(CNN) -- A bulldozer struck what authorities believe was a World War II-era bomb in a western German town Friday afternoon, causing a blast that killed the bulldozer driver, injured 13 other people and damaged homes, police said.

The blast occurred at a rubble storage site in Euskirchen, Germany, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Cologne, police spokesman Helmut Conrads said.

Information on why police suspected a World War II bomb wasn't immediately available, though the unearthing of such ordnance in Germany -- where unexploded Allied bombs still are being discovered decades after the conflict -- wouldn't be unusual.

Two people were critically injured in Friday's blast, and 11 others suffered minor injuries, Conrads said.

The explosion happened at site that was storing construction rubble destined for recycling, according to Conrads.

"We can be lucky this hasn't happened earlier," he said.

The blast damaged homes in a 400-meter radius around the explosion, Conrads said.

The presence of unexploded World War II ordnance in Germany is common enough that companies hire private bomb disposal teams to check that sites are safe when construction is planned.

Last April, authorities briefly evacuated hundreds of people from an area in central Berlin after a Russian-made aerial bomb weighing about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) was unearthed 2 meters from a train track. Bomb disposal experts safely disabled the device.

In August 2012, a 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb was discovered in central Munich. It had to be detonated where it lay because the fuse was unstable; the explosion damaged nearby buildings.

In 2011, 45,000 residents were evacuated from the city of Koblenz, on the Rhine and Moselle rivers, as bomb squads dealt with two bombs and a military fog-producing device that were dropped by American and British warplanes in the last years of the war. One was a 1.8-metric ton British bomb that could have wiped out the city center, according to the local fire brigade.

Three members of a bomb disposal squad were killed in 2010 when the device they were trying to defuse in the German town Gottingen went off.

2011: WWII bombs defused allowing 45,000 evacuated residents to return

CNN's Diana Magnay, Stephanie Halasz and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0915 GMT (1715 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT