In one of the biggest evacuations in Germany, more than 50,000 people in Augsburg were moved out of their homes to a safe zone on Sunday (25 December) while a huge World War Two bomb was defused by authorities. Following an hours-long exercise, German police announced that the unexploded bomb had been rendered safe.

The 1.8-tonne British explosive was discovered on Tuesday (20 December) during construction work. It is believed that the bomb dates back to a 1944 air raid that destroyed the town during the Second World War.

The bomb disposal exercise was reportedly scheduled for Christmas Day, considering it was a holiday and would be less tedious to mobilise people than on a normal working day. Also, most Germans celebrate Christmas and have their main festive meal on 24 December.

Authorities had advised people to stay with their friends or relatives who were based outside the "security zone". In a Twitter post, city mayor Kurt Gribi asked people to look after one another while the disposal exercise was underway. Special arrangements were also made in schools and sports halls to provide shelter to people who were in need, the BBC reported.

This was not the first occasion when large-scale evacuation was done in Germany following the discovery of an unexploded world war-era bomb.

In May 2015, around 20,000 people in Cologne were evacuated after a one-tonne bomb was discovered.

Augsburg world war II bomb
Augsburg residents wait in an exhibition hall after downtown was evacuated on 25 December, Christmas Day to defuse a World War II bomb discovered from a construction site on 20 December Reuters/Michaela Rehle

Around 45,000 people were evacuated from Koblenz in December 2011 following the discovery of two bombs in the riverbed of the Rhine. It took the authorities three hours to make them both safe.

In January 2012, a construction worker was killed after his implement hit an unexploded bomb in Euskirchen. In a similar accident, three members of a bomb disposal squad were killed in June 2010 in Goettingen while defusing a bomb found on a building site, the broadcaster wrote.