WW II bomb defused after mass evacuation in Frankfurt

German explosives experts defused a massive Second World War bomb in the financial capital of Frankfurt on Sunday after tens of thousands of people left their homes.

60,000 people left their homes in Germany's biggest evacuation since the war

Dieter Schwaetzler, left, and Rene Bennert sit next to a massive Second World War bomb after they defused it in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday. (Michael Probst/The Associated Press)

German explosives experts defused a massive Second World War bomb in the financial capital of Frankfurt on Sunday after tens of thousands of people left their homes.

The bomb was discovered on a building site last week and around 60,000 people were ordered to leave their residences in what was Germany's biggest evacuation since the war.

The work by bomb technicians started later than planned Sunday, as some people refused to leave the evacuation area despite fire chiefs warning that an uncontrolled explosion would be big enough to flatten a city block.

A family leaves their apartment during the mass evacuation in Frankfurt on Sunday to defuse a Second World War bomb. (Frank Rumpenhorst/Associated Press)

The device was found last week in the city's leafy Westend neighbourhood, home to many wealthy bankers. The evacuation area includes the central bank where $70 billion US in gold reserves are stored.

Hospitals, care homes evacuated

Police set up cordons around the evacuation area, which covered a radius of 1.5 kilometres. 

Premature babies and intensive care patients had to be evacuated along with everyone else from two hospitals and rescue workers helped about 500 elderly people leave residences and care homes.

A group of elderly people wait at the assembly centre at the Jahrhunderthalle hall, where numerous residents of nursing homes will spend the day in Frankfurt on Sunday. (Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA via Associated Press)

The bomb was dropped by Britain's Royal Air Force during the 1939-45 war, city officials said.

British and American warplanes pummelled the country with 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that killed 600,000 people. Officials estimate 15 per cent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six metres deep.

Live bombs, munitions common in Germany 

More than 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions are found each year in Germany, even under buildings.

In July, a kindergarten was evacuated after teachers discovered an unexploded Second World War bomb on a shelf among some toys.

Police officers get their instructions as 60,000 people in Germany's financial capital flee the city while experts defuse the unexploded bomb. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 450-kg bomb. Roads and transport systems, including parts of the underground, were to remain closed during the work and for at least two hours after the bomb is defused, to allow patients to be transported back to hospitals.

Air traffic from Frankfurt airport could also be affected and small private planes, helicopters and drones were banned from the evacuation zone.