The 45,000 people evacuated in Koblenz after the discovery of World War II explosives in the Rhine at the end of last week returned to their homes (and even a prison) this afternoon. Water levels of the Rhine have been low following the driest November in Germany in decades, exposing a 1.8-ton air mine dropped by the RAF as well as a US aerial bomb dating from the Second World War, resulting in the evacuation and the closing of the Rhine to river traffic. The ordnance has now been defuzed.
Netherlands Ministry of Defense photo
On 2 December, the same day the ordnance was found in the Rhine, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense reported that the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) minehunter Hr. Ms. Willemstad cleared an unusually high number of World War II-era explosives -- 11 aerial bombs, a mine and a depth charge, most of which were caught in fishermen's nets -- from the North Sea in November. Twelve were cleared by attaching 18 kg of explosives using a Seafox C unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). The Seafox C is the "war version" of the UUV, which is used to clear explosives which are too deep for divers, i.e. over 50 meters.
Clearing the explosives is conducted within the framework of Operation Beneficial Cooperation between the RNN and the Belgian navies (which cooperate closely).