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WWII bomb found in central Cologne made safe after evacuation

German experts defused a World War II bomb in Cologne on Tuesday that had forced the evacuation of thousands of office workers and disrupted rail and ship traffic.

WWII bomb found in central Cologne made safe after evacuation
Stefan Höreth of the bomb disposal unit next to the WWII bomb. Photo: DPA

The 500-kilogramme (1,100-pound) US bomb – dropped during a heavy bombardment of the western German city – “no longer poses a danger”, the city said in a statement shortly before midday.

Construction workers found the bomb on the right bank of the Rhine river on Monday evening, prompting the evacuation of nearby offices including those of broadcaster RTL and the Cologne Opera.

Very few people live in the area, which is primarily a business district.

“The roughly 10,000 employees of the affected companies and the 15 residents may return to their buildings,” said the city's statement.

The nearby Hohenzollern rail and pedestrian bridge, which leads to Cologne's famous Dom cathedral and central train station on the opposite bank, was closed during the defusing efforts, severely disrupting rail traffic.

READ ALSO: Discovery of US WWII bomb in Cologne disrupts train services

After the bomb was deactivated in an operation that took less than an hour, German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced that the bridge had reopened, as had Cologne's smaller Messe/Deutz station.

The rail firm warned passengers to expect some knock-on effects from the earlier delays and cancellations.

The airspace above the exclusion zone was also reopened and river traffic was allowed to resume after a short interruption in one of the world's busiest waterways.

Separately, Berlin police announced that another unexploded WWII bomb had been unearthed close to the capital's city hall during construction works.

The 250 kg ordonnance is due to be defused later Tuesday, said police.

World War II bombs are regularly unearthed in Germany.

Earlier this month, some 14,000 people had to leave their homes in Dortmund after two unexploded bombs were found in the city centre.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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ZURICH

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

Switzerland’s Federal Railways (SBB) will be removing the ticket counter from nine stations in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Bern, Zug and Ticino

Swiss rail to close ticket counters in Zurich, Bern, Vaud, Ticino and Zug

The SBB made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision was made due to a lack of demand. 

Instead, commuters will need to buy tickets from automated machines. 

In the canton of Zurich, the ticket stations in Dietlikon, Hinwil, Kloten, Männedorf and Oberwinterthur will be closed. 

In neighbouring Zug, Cham’s ticket counter will be closed, while the Herzogenbuchsee station in Bern will also go fully automated. 

MAPS: The best commuter towns when working in Zurich

In Latin Switzerland, Pully in Vaud and Biasca in Ticino will see their ticket counters closed. 

The SBB told Swiss news outlet Watson that approximately 95 percent of ticket sales are now made via self-service machines or online. 

The advent of navigation apps has meant the need for personal advice on directions and travel has fallen, particularly in smaller areas or stations with lower traffic. 

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