Is there a bomb or not? The search for an aerial bomb in Bonn has begun

Update | Bonn · In the Weststadt district of Bonn, test drills have begun to examine the ground at the corner of Wegelerstraße and Kreuzbergweg. Aerial photographs suggest that there may be an aerial bomb there.

 The first boreholes were quickly drilled: a specialist company is examining the subsoil on the corner of Wegelerstraße and Kreuzbergweg on behalf of the Düsseldorf district government.

The first boreholes were quickly drilled: a specialist company is examining the subsoil on the corner of Wegelerstraße and Kreuzbergweg on behalf of the Düsseldorf district government.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

The first test drillings in the search for a World War II bomb in Bonn's Weststadt district began at around 9am on Monday. A specialist company has been commissioned by the Düsseldorf district government to drill 37 holes about seven metres into the ground on the corner of Wegelerstrasse and Kreuzbergweg. This is where the Bonn Civil Engineering Office is planning a new shaft structure for the sewer system. The asphalt surface of the closed construction site has already been removed and the location of the supply lines has been marked. So far there is no evidence of a bomb.

Worries that there may be a bomb arose a year ago when aerial photographs of the site were examined. According to the district government, the photos were taken between 1940 and 1945. Speaking for the authority, Beatrix van Vlodrop said that the images had been given to the district government by the Allied forces. "These will be compared with current aerial photographs and available geodata." However, it is not certain that there is a bomb on the corner. As the council points out, the old sewers were laid in the 1950s at a depth of up to six metres, and at that time excavation work was carried out.

37 boreholes provide information

During the first test drillings, the drill chuck sank into the gravel like butter. The drill bits were fitted together beforehand and secured with bolts. It took the experienced operator no more than three blows with a carpenter's hammer to sink the bolt. An excavator with a long, extendable arm did the turning and pushing. The first holes were drilled in a matter of minutes. Once the drill is out of the ground, someone quickly throws a thin gutter into the hole before the gravel trickling down can block the opening. The company had to stop after seven holes to locate the exact position of a high-voltage power line, the council said on Monday afternoon. The survey will continue on Tuesday.

Once all 37 boreholes have been drilled, the specialist company will lower probes into the ground to explore the subsurface. The first seven boreholes on Monday gave no indication of a bomb, but the investigation will continue on Tuesday. The probes "detect" iron in a radius of about one metre over the entire depth of seven metres, i.e. they can sense anomalies that differ from the usual gravel subsoil. "We use the geomagnetic method to do this. We measure local deviations in the earth's magnetic field, which are usually caused by iron bodies," says van Vlodrop. The city's public order department is supervising the operation, which is expected to take up to two days.

If there really is a bomb there Düsseldorf's bomb disposal service would be responsible for defusing it. In this case, an area within a radius of 300 to 500 metres would have to be evacuated, affecting up to 5,800 people. Residents were informed of the test drill three weeks ago. At the start of the semester, the university moved as much as possible online. The Ernst-Moritz-Arndt Grammar School is cancelling classes for the duration of the search.

Original text: Philipp Königs

Translation: Jean Lennox

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