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550 Pound Bomb Near Munich Re Shows Risk Mitigation FAIL

Bomb control experts pad unexploded WWII bomb with hay bales to absorb shock of explosion, failing to foresee consequences upon controlled detonation.

Munich Re describes itself as a company of "leading experts on risk solutions worldwide." One wonders how those experts think about one of the risks of merely being located in Munich: unexploded World War II ordinance.

This week about 3,000 residents were evacuated from the city following the discovery a 550-pound bomb dropped by the Allies in the 1940s, according to an NBC news report. The evacuation was one of several prudent risk mitigation measures taken in advance of the controlled detonation of the bomb (see embedded video below).

One measure that turned out to be less than prudent was the decision to pack the bomb in straw prior to setting it off. As NBC reported:

Bales of straw which had been placed around the bomb to cushion the shock of the detonation were set ablaze and thrown through the air by the detonation, according to the European Pressphoto Agency. Some of them landed on the roofs of neighboring buildings and ignited fires.

First, let's give credit to the brave people who defused the bomb and put in place the measures to ensure the safety of Munich's residents. However, in the absence of information to the contrary, I'll assume that they didn't consult Munich Re's leading experts on risk solutions when they decided to pack the bomb in flammable material.

The video below doesn't show the flaming hay bales careening through the sky, but it does make clear how likely it was that they would ignite when the bomb was detonated.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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