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Zurich residents evacuated after gardeners find WW2 bomb

Residents in Zurich’s Küsnacht district were evacuated on Tuesday after an unexploded bomb turned up during gardening works near an old people’s home.

Zurich residents evacuated after gardeners find WW2 bomb
The bomb dated back to the late 1930s. Photo: Zurich cantonal police

A 100m2 area was cordoned off after the bomb was found near the Sonnenhof old people’s home at around 2.45pm in the afternoon, Zurich cantonal police said in a statement.

Personnel from the Swiss army’s Kamir bomb squad and from the Zurich Forensic Science Instituteinvestigated the unexploded bomb before giving the all-clear for residents to return to their homes.

The device measuring 70 centimetres and weighing 25 kilograms was an aircraft bomb using for testing purposes in 1938/1939, according to Zurich police.

A helicopter, the fire brigade and ambulance services were all on hand during the operation on Tuesday afternoon.

Read also: 5,000-year-old dolmen discovered during construction of Swiss garage

WORLD WAR TWO

Swiss village to be evacuated for ten years over explosion fears

Residents of a Swiss village have been told they may have to leave their homes for over a decade while a nearby World War II munitions store is cleared out.

Swiss village to be evacuated for ten years over explosion fears
Photo: Von Draemmli (Roland Rytz) - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0

The former underground depot at Mitholz, which contains 3,500 tons of weaponry, has partially caved in and many of the explosives are now covered by fallen rocks.

Around half of the arsenal exploded in 1947, killing nine people, but the defence ministry said the risk of a second explosion had been underestimated for decades.

The ministry, which this week launched a consultation about the evacuation, said the risk had now become “unacceptable” and “total evacuation” was the best solution.

“Depending on how the work develops, residents should expect the evacuation to last up to more than 10 years,” the ministry said, adding that the explosives would not be removed until 2031 at the earliest.

It also said a major road passing through the village — a collection of chalet-style homes — could be rerouted and a railway line would have to be covered.

The ministry added, however, that closures of both “may become necessary, at least temporarily”. The consultation will last until April 17.

“If the evacuation creates insurmountable problems… it would still be possible to significantly reduce the risks by covering the depot with rock,” the ministry said.

The defence ministry website said thousands more tons of munitions had been dropped into several Swiss lakes but detonation could be “practically excluded” as the explosives were not as concentrated as at Mitholz.

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