Rennes: Three thousand people were evacuated from their homes in the centre of the French city of Rennes today while a 250-kg British bomb from World War II was being diffused.
The bomb was found near the city's town hall during the building of a new metro line in the capital of the Brittany region of western France, mayor Nathalie Appere told AFP.
She said it was packed with 70 kg of high explosives and police bomb disposal experts face a very "delicate operation" to disarm it. "They are having to diffuse it manually rather than with one of their radio controlled devices," she said.
Police evacuated all homes and businesses within 270 metres (300 yards) of the scene just before 9 am (1330 IST), including a fire station and 90 residents of a home for the elderly.
Several hundred people were taken to a nearby hall where volunteers offered them coffee and hot chocolate. The operation is expected to take six hours.
Rennes, a major railway junction, was the target of several raids by Britain's RAF during the war, including a major attack in 1944.