German authorities evacuated around 20,000 people from their homes in the western city of Cologne Wednesday before defusing a World War II bomb unearthed during construction work.

Residents living within a kilometre (about half a mile) of the site were told to leave their homes, among them around 1,100 people from a large old people’s and care home, city officials said.

Schools in the area as well as Cologne Zoo, also within the danger zone, were closed for the day.

The unexploded US-made device, which lay five metres (16 feet) underground, was discovered on Friday on the left bank of the Rhine river near Muelheim bridge, city officials said.

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