Defusing leftover bombs from World War II hidden in the ground beneath German cities has long been routine. The area surrounding the dud is evacuated, experts arrive to defuse the explosive and before long, normality returns. Often, such operations hardly even warrant a mention in the back pages of local newspapers.
That, however, was not the situation in Munich on Tuesday night. Unable to defuse a 250 kilogram (550 pound) bomb found buried one meter (three feet) deep at the site of the former bar Schwabinger 7 in the heart of the Bavarian capital, authorities elected to detonate the explosive on site. The controlled blast, finally carried out just before 10 p.m., sent a fireball into the night sky, shattered windows in the vicinity and resulted in several small fires on surrounding rooftops. Nobody was hurt.
“Almost all the window panes in the immediate area were destroyed,” Diethard Posorski, from the Munich bomb disposal authority, told journalists. A fire department spokesman added: “It looked quite spectacular.”
Chemical time delay fuses were notoriously unreliable. Intended to detonate at random times after an attack to disrupt recovery operations, they are also almost impossible to defuse.
Germany and most European nations have quite a bit of experience handling this sort of thing. But everyone should beware any possible unexploded ordnance.
By the way, it isn’t just Europe that has this problem. The eastern half of the US is littered with Civil War era unexploded ordnance, and there are any number of places out west that may have UXO from training ranges or accidents. If you do spot UXO, don’t disturb it, make note of its location, and report it. It may be harmless, but better safe than sorry.