The evacuation of Frankfurt's Niederrad district began this morning. For four days, the city's crisis team had planned this day so that the 500-kilogram World War II bomb, which was found during construction work on Tuesday, could be defused. It lies in a construction pit on Saonestraße - safely stored, and covered by a tarpaulin. Even though the bomb is not the largest ever found in Frankfurt, it is anything but a routine matter for the explosive ordnance disposal service's defusers.
In order for the defusing to take place quickly, the city set a tight schedule. By eight o'clock in the morning, residents had to leave the defined zone around the bomb site on Saonestraße. A large part of Niederrad is affected. In addition, there is an extended protection zone. There, residents are allowed to stay in their houses, but from 11 a.m. they are not allowed to vanture outside, not even on their balconies.
Many citizens kept to the prescribed times and left the evacuation zone shortly after eight at the latest. One young man stated that he would now go to the office, "but not to work, but to relax," as he said. He would "rather not be near a 500-pound bomb." Another resident indicated he would be spending the day at an acquaintance's house. There, he said, he wanted to "rest, maybe read a little, watch TV." In his bag he had enough "reading material" with him. A book, several magazines. He doesn't think it's a big deal that he had to leave his apartment. However, he says he would not want to be a bomb disposal expert.
A family also had to leave their apartment andwent in the early morning on the way to the Odenwald to spend the day there. Other residents took their pets with them. Several had transport boxes with cats.
Around 8:30 a.m., more police cars were on the road in the evacuation zone. The officers pointed out to the remaining residents that they had to leave the zone. It was initially unclear how many people were still in the area.
This time, experts had decided that an evacuation zone alone was not enough. Police and firefighters said the risk was too great that there would be significant damage in the event of a detonation. Fireman Alexander Majunker, who will help defuse the bomb in the afternoon, said in an interview with the F.A.Z. that "a detonation would be devastating." This time, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service is relying not only on two defusers, but on an entire team of eight - in case complications arise and it becomes necessary to cut out the detonators. The bomb contains 145 kilograms of explosives.
The evacuation is also complicated above all by the fact that the Corona protection measures must be observed even in such a situation. The city of Frankfurt has organized special transport for residents who are under quarantine, for example. Those affected will be housed separately, under high protection measures. Other residents, such as the elderly or sick, who are unable to leave their houses and apartments independently, are also picked up at home. Accommodation has been set up for them at the Carl von Weinberg School. There they are cared for by relief and rescue services.
The school is considered a central collection point for all residents who have no other options for accommodation until the end of the defusing operation. Typically, during prolonged evacuations, residents spend time with relatives or friends, or use the day for outings - which is not easy in Corona times with strict contact restrictions, closed restaurants, cafes and cultural institutions. There are not many options left to pass the day.
It is still unclear when the firefighters of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service can start defusing the device. The fire department had announced on Friday, it could be that the defusing drags on until the evening. The fire department has set up a citizens' telephone number 069 / 21 21 11
Image by David Mark