Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in Munich on Monday night after the disposal of a 250-kilo World War II bomb proved more complicated than expected. “It could go off at any time,” said a fire department spokesman.
The closure of Schwabinger 7 had infuriated many who saw it as a legendary part of Munich’s night-life, one of the last remaining dark, scruffy places, where the Rolling Stones used to go drinking when hanging out with Uschi Obermaier.
All attempts to save the bar failed – and the sounds made by late-night boozers was replaced by the rumble of the building being pulled down. Workers with pneumatic drills were hard at work on Monday, while all around them people went about their business in the lively district.
Until a digger scraped against metal on Monday – and work on the site was halted.
Even then Munich bomb disposal officer Diethard Posorski and his colleagues assumed it was a ‘normal’ bomb – which although dangerous, can be handled with care.
It took several hours before it became clear that the 250-kilo bomb was not the normal kind; it has a chemical detonator, said Posorski.
“That is a chemical delayed-action detonator. I am not defusing that, I’m not suicidal,” he told the Münchner Zeitung newspaper on Monday night.
He referred to the three people who died in Göttingen in 2010 trying to defuse exactly the same kind of bomb, which exploded when they lifted it up a little.
“We also lifted this one up a touch, but thank God, we survived,” he said.
The operation to clear people from their homes started on Monday night at around 10pm and was later extended so that around 2,500 living within 300 metres of the bomb were affected.
They were given just minutes to grab a few things and leave. Officials went door to door making sure everyone had heard and understood the instructions being blared out by loudspeaker.