Blast from past averted: Mass evacuation in France over WWII bomb

Blast from past averted: Mass evacuation in France over WWII bomb
A discovery of a massive 250kg British bomb, hidden in the ground since World War II, caused the evacuation of 3,000 people in the French city of Rennes.

The device was found by construction workers, involved in the building of a subway line in the city’s center, not far from the Rennes town hall.

The bomb was packed with 70kg of explosives material and the experts faced a very “delicate operation” to disarm it, Nathalie Appere, city’s mayor, told AFP.

"It took two hours to defuse the bomb and it was quite difficult because it was old and it wasn’t in really good shape,” Frederique Camilleri, sub-prefect, said.

The police had to evacuate all homes and businesses within a 270-meter radius of the operation, including 90 elderly residents of a local nursing home.

“It is quite common to find bombs from World War II in France but the difficulty today was that the bomb was in a very populated area,” Camilleri told RFI radio station.

In 2010, another British bomb was discovered in Rennes during the building of a medical facility in the city’s center.

France was under Nazi German occupation in 1940-44, with major railway junction, Rennes, becoming a frequent target of Britain’s Royal Air Force bombing.

The Western Allies performed airstrikes against 1,570 French cities and towns during World War II, killing nearly 67,000 civilians.