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
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 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