Germany evacuates entire town on Christmas to defuse massive bomb

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

More than 50,000 people had to be evacuated from a city in south Germany on Christmas Day after a 1.8 ton World War Two bomb was found there.

The bomb was discovered last week in Augsburg, during construction work on an underground car park.

An evacuation area more than a mile (1.5 kilometers) in radius was announced for December 25, including 32,000 households and around 54,000 inhabitants.

Residents were told to be out of their homes by 10 a.m. at the latest, and evacuation centers were set up in local schools and gymnasiums.

This picture shows an evacuation leaflet on December 24, 2016 in Augsburg, southern Germany. Around 54,000 residents are being evacuated from their homes after the discovery of a bomb dating from World War II, local authorities said. / AFP / dpa / Stefan Puchner / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN PUCHNER/AFP/Getty Images)

This picture shows an evacuation leaflet on December 24, 2016 in Augsburg, southern Germany.
Around 54,000 residents are being evacuated from their homes after the discovery of a bomb dating from World War II, local authorities said. / AFP / dpa / Stefan Puchner / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN PUCHNER/AFP/Getty Images)

Just after 7pm, the city’s official Facebook account announced the bomb had been successfully defused and the evacuation was over.

Photos showed Augsburg’s mayor, Kurt Gribl, going into the pit where the bomb was sitting to thank the work crews who had given up their Christmas to work on the explosive.

“Aircraft bomb disarmed — these brave men are the real heroes of this historical day. Thank you deep down from the heart,” Gribl said on his Twitter account.

The city also confirmed in a statement that the bomb was a British one that had been dropped on the city in World War 2.

A fire department car is seen during a mass evacuation on December 25, 2016 on the empty streets of Augsburg, southern Germany. Around 54,000 residents are being evacuated from their homes after the discovery of a bomb dating from World War II, local authorities said. / AFP / dpa / Stefan Puchner / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN PUCHNER/AFP/Getty Images)

A fire department car is seen during a mass evacuation on December 25, 2016 on the empty streets of Augsburg, southern Germany.
Around 54,000 residents are being evacuated from their homes after the discovery of a bomb dating from World War II, local authorities said. / AFP / dpa / Stefan Puchner / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN PUCHNER/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities had previously decided to wait to defuse the device until Christmas, as there was no immediate danger from the bomb.

In Germany, families hold their main celebration on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day as in many other Christian countries.

More than 70 years after the end of the second World War, unexploded bombs are still causing problems across Europe.

In August 2015, a 250 kilogram (550 pound) bomb was discovered on a construction site in East London, forcing a late-night evacuation while it was defused.

One year earlier, in January 2014, a bulldozer struck an unexploded bomb in Euskirchen, Germany, killing one person and injuring others.