World War II bomb in central Berlin forces evacuation

A tarpaulin sits on a construction site where a WWII bomb was found close to Alexanderplatz.
A tarpaulin sits on a construction site where a WWII bomb was found close to Alexanderplatz.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A general view of the construction site close to Berlin's Alexanderplatz where a 100kg World War II bomb was found.
A general view of the construction site close to Berlin's Alexanderplatz where a 100kg World War II bomb was found.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - An unexploded US aerial bomb from World War II was found in central Berlin during construction work on Friday (June 14), forcing the evacuation of surrounding city blocks, police said.

The 100 kilogramme explosive was unearthed on a building site near the central square of Alexanderplatz in the city's inner east.

People were being evacuated from within a 300m radius of the corroded bomb, which was found at a depth of about three metres (nine feet) and had an intact detonator, police said.

A bomb disposal squad was set to attempt to defuse the explosive in the evening, police said on Twitter, warning that some city trains may have to be halted temporarily.

The evacuation zone covered parts of the Alexa shopping centre, an above-ground rail line, several busy roads and some residential tower blocks.

Nearly 75 years after the end of World War II, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, a legacy of the Allied bombing campaign against Nazi Germany.

Berlin was subject to intense bombardment, particularly in the spring of 1945, with a third of the city's homes destroyed and tens of thousands of people killed.

Thousands of items of unexploded ordnance have since been discovered, but some 3,000 are still believed to remain buried in the city's subsoil, according to experts.

In April 2018, Berlin police defused a 500 kilogramme British bomb, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people.

In Germany's biggest post-war evacuation to date, some 60,000 Frankfurt residents had to leave their homes in 2017 so that an unexploded 1.8-tonne British bomb dubbed the "blockbuster" could be defused.