It ended nearly 70 years ago, but World War II has taken yet another life. An undetonated bomb dropped by Allied planes exploded in a German town on Friday, killing the driver of an excavator and wounding another 13 people.

The explosion happened in an industrial area of Euskirchen near Bonn. As The Guardian writes, it's not immediately clear if the explosives had been buried in the ground or inadvertently brought to the site in a delivery of demolition waste.

The driver of the mechanical digger was fatally injured after it hit the device, and two people nearby were seriously hurt. Another 11 people who were in the area suffered minor injuries.

Windows, roofs and doors up to 400 metres away were damaged in the blast, police said. Explosives experts were working to determine exactly what the device was.


Unexploded bombs are still a serious problem in Germany. According to National Geographic, disposal experts will get a lot more in the years to come:

In the German capital, 2,000 bombs have been recovered since the end of the war. And experts say between 2,000 and 4,000 tons of explosive material—including unexploded hand grenades used during the fierce battle for the capital in 1945—still litter Berlin.

"They find and defuse 10 or 15 bombs each year," said Wolfgang Spyra, former head of the Berlin Police Department's Forensic Science and Engineering Department and a retired professor at Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus. "At that rate, you can imagine how much longer the problem will be with us."

The number of bombs still to be found is staggering. British, American, and Russian bombing raids dumped upward of 2.7 million tons of bombs on Germany during the war, each weighing anywhere from 100 to 4,000 pounds (45 to 1,814 kilos). Spyra estimates between 7 and 15 percent of those were duds, bombs that hit the ground but failed to explode. For decades, they've remained live, waiting quietly for an errant backhoe or bulldozer to set them off.


Images: Marius Becker/Corbis.