May 6 (UPI) -- More than 50,000 people in the city of Hanover were ordered to evacuate their homes beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, so local officials could begin removing up to 13 unexploded World War II bombs from the area.
Crews had discovered five of the bombs by midday and the city said it expected residents to be able to return in the evening.
The evacuation affected about 10 percent of the cities population and included seven care and elderly homes, a clinic and a Continental tire plant.
It is the second largest bomb removal operation in Germany since Christmas Day last year in Augsburg when 54,000 people were evacuated after a 3.8 ton bomb was discovered in the area.
About 261,000 bombs were dropped by Allied forces near Hanover and many still remain scattered throughout the country, placing pressure on officials to remove them before material fatigue caused by the passage of time makes them more dangerous.
The city prepared events at museums, theaters and other venues for the evacuees to enjoy as they await the end of the operation.
Evacuees were also urged to bring necessary items including medication and turn off all electrical and gas appliances before evacuating.
The evacuation will also affect train travel through Hanover, because many trains will not stop in the city's central train station.