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German City Evacuates Half its Residents to Defuse Massive World War II Bomb

Has the potential to demolish a city block.

Sandbags frame a 1.8 ton WWII bomb in river Rhine near Koblenz Saturday Dec. 3, 2011. Officials in Germany's western city of Koblenz say some 45,000 residents have to be evacuated because of a World War II era bomb discovered in the Rhine river. The bomb was discovered in the Rhine after its water level fell significantly amid a prolonged lack of rain. (AP Photo/dapd/ Harald Tittel)

The discovery of a massive World War II-era bomb means 45,000 residents of the western German city of Koblenz must evacuate so officials can try to defuse it.

The 10-foot, 1.8-ton British bomb was discovered in the Rhine river last week. Packed with more than 3,000 pounds of explosives, it is one of the largest unexploded bombs ever found and has the potential to demolish an entire city block.

City officials said Saturday the bomb will be defused early Sunday, requiring all residents who live within a 1.2-mile radius from the bomb site to leave their homes for the day.

The bomb was found last week alongside a 275-pound-bomb dropped there by U.S. forces during World War II, after the Rhine's water level fell due to a prolonged lack of rain. A German smoke grenade was also found nearby, Stars and Stripes reported.

According to German media outlets, the bomb was sitting in about 16 inches of water, partially buried in mud, which made it difficult to access the detonation fuse, according to Stars and Stripes. Officials used sandbags to build a dam around it to gain easier access.

Officials said seven nursing homes, two hospitals and a prison are also being evacuated. Train and road traffic in the area, about 80 miles northwest of Frankfurt, will come to a halt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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