Bonn · A bomb was found during construction work on the university campus in Bonn-Endenich on Monday. Residents had to be evacuated to defuse the bomb, and the police closed off the A 565 motorway. In the evening, the aerial bomb was successfully defused.
An aerial bomb from the Second World War caused a large-scale operation by the fire brigade, police, explosive ordnance disposal service and city administration on Monday. Nearly 400 residents of several streets in Endenich and Dransdorf had to leave their homes in the early evening for safety reasons.
The 250-kilo bomb was discovered during sewer construction work on the Endenich campus of Bonn University on Gerhard-Domagk-Straße. At 10.04 p.m. Fritz Pütz from the explosive ordnance disposal service of the Düsseldorf district government was able to give the all-clear. Karsten Windolph of the city's ordinance service said shortly afterwards that Pütz had been able to unscrew the detonator without using explosives.
The three construction workers who had discovered the bomb in the afternoon met the situation with a mixture of respect and composure. "We were lucky. If the bomb had been the other way around, it could have ended badly for us," said the excavator operator who was at the controls at the moment of the discovery.
He knows what he is talking about: in 2014, a World War II bomb exploded during similar excavation work in Euskirchen. The excavator driver was killed, two people were seriously injured, eleven others slightly. "That was one of my colleagues. But you know what you're getting into." The risk always exists, he said, which is why he proceeds cautiously on such construction sites. "Finding a bomb is a coincidence and it's not the first time it's happened to me. Suddenly you've got egg on your face.“
Construction on a larger scale has been underway on the campus since this year. The Bau- und Liegenschaftsbetrieb NRW (BLB NRW) is constructing a replacement building on an open area in front of the existing building of the Chemical Institutes on the Endenich Campus. This will create modern office and laboratory space. In addition, the building will relieve the existing building, as university spokesman Andreas Archut explains. The bomb was not found there, however, but a little further north, where work was being done on the storm water drain.
After the scene was illuminated by the Technisches Hilfswerk, work began on slowly uncovering the bomb. At the same time, employees of the public order office began ringing the residents of the surrounding streets out of their flats in the early evening. According to the city administration, about 380 people living within a 300-metre radius of where the bomb was found were affected - the street sections of Am Propsthof and Auf dem Hügel and adjoining streets were closed.
Helpers informed the residents via loudspeaker announcements. For all those who could not spontaneously move to relatives or friends, the city and rescue services set up a contact point in the nearby Kettelerschule. Only when it had been ensured that all houses were empty did the defusing begin.
By 8 p.m., the police, with the help of city staff, had closed off the streets in the vicinity. At the same time, a message from the Autobahn GmbH announced that the situation at the site of the bomb was becoming more concrete. For the rest of the evening, the Autobahn 565, which runs directly next to the site of the bomb, was to be closed for about an hour. This is more or less what happened in the end. However, due to the late hour, well after 9 p.m., the associated restrictions were limited.
At the same time, the first residents arrived at the Ketteler school on Siemensstraße. Kirsten Ermeling and Claus Goldberg, for example, who are currently renting one of Westside's new flats, were stranded there. "We just found out about the evacuation through the police and then came here," Ermeling reported. The two are only living in Bonn temporarily. The summer flood hit the Bad Neuenahr residents hard. Their house is still being dried out and needs extensive renovation. Therefore, they had to look for another place to stay for a year. At least for a few hours, they now found themselves in a temporary home again. (Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach and Philipp Königs / Translation: Mareike Graepel)